This painting shows a new approach to designing vaccines, termed "germline-targeting." The vaccine challenges the immune system with several levels of glycosylation on the vaccine molecule: specific glycans that obscure an epitope are removed from the immunogen, which primes the immune system. In subsequent vaccinations, the glycans are restored to simulate a mature/native protein. Here, a solubilized version of HIV envelope glycoprotein (magenta) is used for the vaccine, and two levels of glycosylation are shown: one fully-glycosylated and one with glycans removed at the receptor-binding site. The glycans that are removed are shown in slightly darker magenta. The vaccine glycoproteins are binding to B-cell receptors (Y-shaped molecules in yellow-green) on the surface of a B-cell (membrane in green, cytoplasm in blue) and activating many signaling proteins inside the cell (shown in blue-green on the inner side of the membrane). Blood plasma is at top, with Y-shaped antibodies in yellow. Painting created in collaboration with T. G. Caniels in the laboratory of Rogier Sanders at University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC.
This painting is part of PDB-101's SciArt gallery of Molecular Landscapes by David S. Goodsell.