B-cell restriction–an alternative piece to the puzzle

Jonathan M. Gershoni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Effective vaccination is based on three critical aspects of the B-cell response towards infectious agents: (i) that B-cells can generate specific antibodies towards a vast molecular diversity of antigens; proteins, sugars, DNA and lipids. There seems to be no limit to the ability to raise antibodies to everything. (ii) once stimulated, B-cells can perfect their antibodies through affinity maturation to complement every nook and cranny of the epitope and (iii) that the pathogen remains genetically stable and does not change to any great extent. Thus, antibodies produced against the vaccine and subsequent boosts recognize the viral virulent field isolates in future encounters and effectively knock them out. However, some vaccine targets, such as flu virus and HIV, are extremely genetically dynamic. The rapid genetic drift of these viruses renders them moving targets which assist in their ability to evade immune surveillance. Here we postulate that in the case of hyper-variable pathogens the B-cell response actually might be “too good”. We propose that restricting B-cell activities may prove effective in counteracting the genetic diversity of variant viruses such as flu and HIV. We suggest two levels of “B-cell restriction”: (i) to focus the B-cell response exclusively towards neutralizing epitopes by creating epitope-based immunogens; (ii) to restrict affinity maturation of B-cells to prevent the production of overly optimized exquisitely specific antibodies. Together, these “B-cell restrictions” provide a new modality for vaccine design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2044-2049
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2019


  • AIDS vaccine
  • B-cell immunity
  • Epitope based vaccines
  • affinity maturation
  • broad cross neutralization
  • flu vaccine
  • fuzzy vaccine
  • humoral response
  • subunit vaccine


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