Multimeric immunotherapeutic complexes activating natural killer cells towards HIV-1 cure

Rafaëla Schober, Bianca Brandus, Thessa Laeremans, Gilles Iserentant, Camille Rolin, Géraldine Dessilly, Jacques Zimmer, Michel Moutschen, Joeri L. Aerts, Xavier Dervillez, Carole Seguin-Devaux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has dramatically extended the life expectancy of people living with HIV-1 and improved their quality of life. There is nevertheless no cure for HIV-1 infection since HIV-1 persists in viral reservoirs of latently infected CD4+ T cells. cART does not eradicate HIV-1 reservoirs or restore cytotoxic natural killer (NK) cells which are dramatically reduced by HIV-1 infection, and express the checkpoint inhibitors NKG2A or KIR2DL upregulated after HIV-1 infection. Cytotoxic NK cells expressing the homing receptor CXCR5 were recently described as key subsets controlling viral replication. Methods: We designed and evaluated the potency of “Natural killer activating Multimeric immunotherapeutic compleXes”, called as NaMiX, combining multimers of the IL-15/IL-15Rα complex with an anti-NKG2A or an anti-KIR single-chain fragment variable (scFv) to kill HIV-1 infected CD4+ T cells. The oligomerization domain of the C4 binding protein was used to associate the IL-15/IL-15Rα complex to the scFv of each checkpoint inhibitor as well as to multimerize each entity into a heptamer (α form) or a dimer (β form). Each α or β form was compared in different in vitro models using one-way ANOVA and post-hoc Tukey’s tests before evaluation in humanized NSG tg-huIL-15 mice having functional NK cells. Results: All NaMiX significantly enhanced the cytolytic activity of NK and CD8+ T cells against Raji tumour cells and HIV-1+ ACH-2 cells by increasing degranulation, release of granzyme B, perforin and IFN-γ. Targeting NKG2A had a stronger effect than targeting KIR2DL due to higher expression of NKG2A on NK cells. In viral inhibition assays, NaMiX initially increased viral replication of CD4+ T cells which was subsequently inhibited by cytotoxic NK cells. Importantly, anti-NKG2A NaMiX enhanced activation, cytotoxicity, IFN-γ production and CXCR5 expression of NK cells from HIV-1 positive individuals. In humanized NSG tg-huIL-15 mice, we confirmed enhanced activation, degranulation, cytotoxicity of NK cells, and killing of HIV-1 infected cells from mice injected with the anti-NKG2A.α NaMiX, as compared to control mice, as well as decreased total HIV-1 DNA in the lung. Conclusions: NK cell-mediated killing of HIV-1 infected cells by NaMiX represents a promising approach to support HIV-1 cure strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number791
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


  • HIV cure
  • IL-15
  • Immunotherapy
  • KIR2DL
  • NK cells
  • NKG2A


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