Immunosilencing a highly immunogenic protein trimerization domain [Protein Structure and Folding]

January 29th, 2015 by Sliepen, K., van Montfort, T., Melchers, M., Isik, G., Sanders, R. W.

Many therapeutic proteins and protein subunit vaccines contain heterologous trimerization domains, such as the widely used GCN4-based isoleucine zipper (IZ) and the T4 bacteriophage fibritin foldon (Fd) trimerization domains. We found that these domains induced potent anti-IZ or anti-Fd antibody responses in animals when fused to an HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) immunogen. To dampen IZ-induced responses, we constructed an IZ domain containing four N-linked glycans (IZN4) to shield the underlying protein surface. When fused to two different vaccine antigens, HIV-1 Env and influenza hemagglutinin (HA), IZN4 strongly reduced the antibody responses against the IZ, but did not affect the antibody titers against Env or HA. Silencing of immunogenic multimerization domains with glycans might be relevant for therapeutic proteins and protein vaccines.