UNLABELLED: It is generally acknowledged that human broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) capable of neutralizing multiple HIV-1 clades are often polyreactive or autoreactive. Whereas polyreactivity or autoreactivity has been proposed to be crucial for neutralization breadth, no systematic, quantitative study of self-reactivity among nonneutralizing HIV-1 Abs (nNAbs) has been performed to determine whether poly- or autoreactivity in bNAbs is a consequence of chronic antigen (Ag) exposure and/or inflammation or a fundamental property of neutralization. Here, we use protein microarrays to assess binding to >9,400 human proteins and find that as a class, bNAbs are significantly more poly- and autoreactive than nNAbs. The poly- and autoreactive property is therefore not due to the infection milieu but rather is associated with neutralization. Our observations are consistent with a role of heteroligation for HIV-1 neutralization and/or structural mimicry of host Ags by conserved HIV-1 neutralization sites. Although bNAbs are more mutated than nNAbs as a group, V(D)J mutation per se does not correlate with poly- and autoreactivity. Infrequent poly- or autoreactivity among nNAbs implies that their dominance in humoral responses is due to the absence of negative control by immune regulation. Interestingly, four of nine bNAbs specific for the HIV-1 CD4 binding site (CD4bs) (VRC01, VRC02, CH106, and CH103) bind human ubiquitin ligase E3A (UBE3A), and UBE3A protein competitively inhibits gp120 binding to the VRC01 bNAb. Among these four bNAbs, avidity for UBE3A was correlated with neutralization breadth. Identification of UBE3A as a self-antigen recognized by CD4bs bNAbs offers a mechanism for the rarity of this bNAb class.
IMPORTANCE: Eliciting bNAbs is key for HIV-1 vaccines; most Abs elicited by HIV-1 infection or immunization, however, are strain specific or nonneutralizing, and unsuited for protection. Here, we compare the specificities of bNAbs and nNAbs to demonstrate that bNAbs are significantly more poly- and autoreactive than nNAbs. The strong association of poly- and autoreactivity with bNAbs, but not nNAbs from infected patients, indicates that the infection milieu, chronic inflammation and Ag exposure, CD4 T-cell depletion, etc., alone does not cause poly- and autoreactivity. Instead, these properties are fundamentally linked to neutralization breadth, either by the requirement for heteroligation or the consequence of host mimicry by HIV-1. Indeed, we show that human UBE3A shares an epitope(s) with HIV-1 envelope recognized by four CD4bs bNAbs. The poly- and autoreactivity of bNAbs surely contribute to the rarity of membrane-proximal external region (MPER) and CD4bs bNAbs and identify a roadblock that must be overcome to induce protective vaccines.