• Injection of Antibodies against Immunodominant Epitopes Tunes Germinal Centers to Generate Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies.

      Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-10-29)
      Broadly neutralizing antibodies are crucial for the control of many life-threatening viral infections like HIV, influenza, or hepatitis. Their induction is a prime goal in vaccine research. Using computer simulations, we identify strategies to promote the generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies in natural germinal center (GC) reactions. The simulations predict a feedback loop based on antibodies and memory B cells from previous GC reactions that promotes GCs to focus on new epitopes. Memory-derived or injected antibodies specific for immunodominant epitopes control epitope availability, suppress the participation of memory B cells in the GC reaction, and allow for the evolution of other B cells to affinity mature for hidden or rare epitopes. This defines a natural selection mechanism for GC B cells to concentrate on new epitopes rather than refine affinity to already-covered epitopes. This principle can be used for the design and testing of future therapies and vaccination protocols.