Immunodominance and cross-reactivity of B5703-restricted CD8 T lymphocytes from HIV type 1 subtype C-infected Ethiopians.
The HLA-B57 allele family is associated with slow progression to disease in HIV-1-infected individuals and restricts a potent CD8 response against the p24 protein. This study was designed to assess the sequence variation and the CD8 response against B57-restricted epitopes of the p24 protein in a cohort of HIV-1 subtype C-infected individuals possessing a high frequency of the B5703 allele. Gag sequences were amplified by PCR, cloned, and sequenced from 19 individuals including 8 B57-negative individuals. CD8 responses were assessed by interferon-gamma ELISPOT assay directly from PBMC using synthetic peptides matching the autologous virus as well as the peptides representing the sequence variants circulating within the B5703 individuals. The KF11 epitope (p24 amino acids 162-172) and variants of this epitope were immunodominant in subjects possessing the B5703 allele. Three variants were observed only in B5703 individuals. Differing patterns of cross-reactivity against variant peptides were observed and were dependent upon the sequence of the autologous virus. Subjects infected with the A2G, S4N variant of KF11 demonstrated poor cross-reactivity against all other variant peptides. Determination of the breadth of viral quasispecies circulating in a population provided crucial information for studying potential escape variants of an immunodominant epitope. The presented data show that the sequence of autologous virus is critical in determining the extent of cross-reactivity of a CD8 T cell response against heterologous virus variants. Efforts to optimize the cross-reactivity of vaccine-induced CD8 T cells may need to focus on the relative immunogenicity of minor sequence variation.
Currier, JR; Harris, ME; Cox, JH; McCutchan, FE; Birx, DL; Maayan, S; Ferrari, G
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