Prof. Heather Desaire

Prof. Heather Desaire
Tuesday May 22nd 

Heather Desaire

The role of precision analytics in HIV vaccine development.


               An HIV vaccine is necessary to end the global spread of AIDS.  Vaccines against other viruses can be made by recombinantly expressing their viral surface proteins, but this vaccine strategy has not been adequate for HIV.  While there are many reasons why an effective vaccine is not yet in hand, some of the problems are related to protein manufacturing.  The HIV Envelope protein (Env) is heavily glycosylated, membrane-anchored, and trimeric.  These features make the protein surprisingly difficult to reproduce in a native-yet-soluble form that could be administered as a vaccine immunogen.   My group has spent the last 10 years studying the glycosylation and disulfide bonding of various forms of Env, with the goals of determining the native post-translational modifications and the best ways to express the protein such that it closely mimics viral Env. To enable this work, we developed methods for analyzing glycans in a glycosylation site-specific manner, and we devised an approach to quantify isoforms that are aberrantly disulfide bonded.  This seminar will address the progress we made in developing analysis methods for highly complex glycoproteins, like Env, and it will tell a story about how we have advanced HIV vaccine development from a protein manufacturing perspective.