Evolutionarily conserved epitopes on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and feline immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptases detected by HIV-1-infected subjects.
Anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-associated epitopes, evolutionarily conserved on both HIV type 1 (HIV-1) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) reverse transcriptases (RT), were identified using gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISpot) and carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimide ester (CFSE) proliferation assays followed by CTL-associated cytotoxin analysis. The peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or T cells from HIV-1-seropositive (HIV(+)) subjects were stimulated with overlapping RT peptide pools. The PBMC from the HIV(+) subjects had more robust IFN-γ responses to the HIV-1 peptide pools than to the FIV peptide pools, except for peptide-pool F3. In contrast, much higher and more frequent CD8(+) T-cell proliferation responses were observed with the FIV peptide pools than with the HIV peptide pools. HIV-1-seronegative subjects had no proliferation or IFN-γ responses to the HIV and FIV peptide pools. A total of 24% (40 of 166) of the IFN-γ responses to HIV pools and 43% (23 of 53) of the CD8(+) T-cell proliferation responses also correlated to responses to their counterpart FIV pools. Thus, more evolutionarily conserved functional epitopes were identified by T-cell proliferation than by IFN-γ responses. In the HIV(+) subjects, peptide-pool F3, but not the HIV H3 counterpart, induced the most IFN-γ and proliferation responses. These reactions to peptide-pool F3 were highly reproducible and persisted over the 1 to 2 years of testing. All five individual peptides and epitopes of peptide-pool F3 induced IFN-γ and/or proliferation responses in addition to inducing CTL-associated cytotoxin responses (perforin, granzyme A, granzyme B). The epitopes inducing polyfunctional T-cell activities were highly conserved among human, simian, feline, and ungulate lentiviruses, which indicated that these epitopes are evolutionarily conserved. These results suggest that FIV peptides could be used in an HIV-1 vaccine.
Sanou, MP; Roff, SR; Mennella, A; Sleasman, JW; Rathore, MH; Yamamoto, JK; Levy, JA
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