Natural and cross-inducible anti-SIV antibodies in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques
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Cynomolgus macaques are an increasingly important nonhuman primate model for HIV vaccine research. SIV-free animals without pre-existing anti-SIV immune responses are generally needed to evaluate the effect of vaccine-induced immune responses against the vaccine epitopes. Here, in order to select such animals for vaccine studies, we screened 108 naïve female Mauritian cynomolgus macaques for natural (baseline) antibodies to SIV antigens using a Bio-Plex multiplex system. The antigens included twelve 20mer peptides overlapping the twelve SIV protease cleavage sites (-10/+10), respectively (PCS peptides), and three non-PCS Gag or Env peptides. Natural antibodies to SIV antigens were detected in subsets of monkeys. The antibody reactivity to SIV was further confirmed by Western blot using purified recombinant SIV Gag and Env proteins. As expected, the immunization of monkeys with PCS antigens elicited anti-PCS antibodies. However, unexpectedly, antibodies to non-PCS peptides were also induced, as shown by both Bio-Plex and Western blot analyses, while the non-PCS peptides do not share sequence homology with PCS peptides. The presence of natural and vaccine cross-inducible SIV antibodies in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques should be considered in animal selection, experimental design, and result interpretation, for their best use in HIV vaccine research.