Broad cross-clade T-cell responses to gag in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 non-B clades (A to G): importance of HLA anchor residue conservation.

Research paper by Mark J MJ Geels, Sheri A SA Dubey, Kiersten K Anderson, Elly E Baan, Margreet M Bakker, Georgios G Pollakis, William A WA Paxton, John W JW Shiver, Jaap J Goudsmit

Indexed on: 17 Aug '05Published on: 17 Aug '05Published in: Journal of virology


We aimed to identify cross-clade human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) specific T-cell responses among 10 HLA-typed individuals who were infected with non-B HIV-1 strains (A, AG, C, D, G, or F) and to correlate these responses with genetic variation in documented T-cell epitopes. T-cell reactivity was tested against peptide pools spanning clade B Gag, Pol, Nef, Rev, and Tat consensus, with Gag and Nef providing the highest responses. Nine individuals who responded to clade B Gag demonstrated cross-reactive T-cell responses against clade A and C Gag pools, while six of seven responders to Nef-B reacted to clade A and C Nef pools. An inverse correlation between the height of the T-cell responses and the sequence divergence of the HLA class I-restricted epitopes was identified when we compared autologous Gag and Nef sequences with the reactive consensus pools. This could be explained for the Gag sequences through observed variations in the HLA anchor residues. Through mapping of 30 amino acid cross-clade-reactive regions using Gag-B pools, we were able to link 58% (14/24) of the T-cell responses to regions containing previously described HLA class I-restricted epitopes. Forty-two percent (10/24) of the responses were directed to regions containing new epitopes, for which predicted HLA class I motifs could be recognized in 70% (7/10) of individuals. We demonstrate here that cross-clade T-cell responses are frequently induced in individuals infected with distinct HIV-1 clades, suggesting that interclade variation outside of HLA anchor residues may have less impact on vaccine-induced T-cell reactivity than previously thought.