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HIV-1 subtype C is the most common HIV-1 group M subtype in Africa and many parts of Asia. However, to date HIV-1 vaccine candidate immunogens have not induced potent and broadly neutralizing antibodies against subtype C primary isolates. We have used a centralized gene strategy to address HIV-1 diversity, and generated a group M consensus envelope gene with shortened consensus variable loops (CON-S) for comparative studies with wildtype (WT) Env immunogens. Our results indicate that the consensus HIV-1 group M CON-S Env elicited cross-subtype neutralizing antibodies of similar or greater breadth and titer than the WT Envs tested, indicating the utility of a centralized gene strategy. Our study also shows the feasibility of iterative improvements in Env immunogenicity by rational design of centralized genes.
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