Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) evolved from the zoonotic transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) that naturally infects sooty mangabeys found in West Africa. Using sera from HIV-2-infected humans, we discovered that an hypervariable region (the V4 loop) of HIV-2 induces antibody responses only weakly reactive against itself but strongly reactive against analogous sequences from the V4 loop of strains of SIV. Available sequence data indicates that all strains of HIV-2 have large deletions in the V4 region that truncate an immunodominant neutralizing B cell epitope among strains of SIV. Infection of a macaque with a sequenced clone of HIV-2 similarly elicited antibodies that poorly recognized the V4 loop of HIV-2 but readily bound to analogous SIV sequences. Our data are consistent with a scenario whereby a disparate antibody response directed against the V4 loop may have influenced the selective expansion and survival of HIV-2 in humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas