BackgroundA major immune evasion mechanism of HIV-1 is the accumulation of non-synonymous mutations in and around T cell epitopes, resulting in loss of T cell recognition and virus escape.ResultsHere we analyze primary CD8+ T cell responses and virus escape in a HLA B*81 expressing subject who was infected with two T/F viruses from a single donor. In addition to classic escape through non-synonymous mutation/s, we also observed rapid selection of multiple recombinant viruses that conferred escape from T cells specific for two epitopes in Nef.ConclusionsOur study shows that recombination between multiple T/F viruses provide greater options for acute escape from CD8+ T cell responses than seen in cases of single T/F virus infection. This process may contribute to the rapid disease progression in patients infected by multiple T/F viruses.
The preexisting HIV-1-specific T cell repertoire must influence both the immunodominance of T cells after infection and immunogenicity of vaccines. We directly compared two methods for measuring the preexisting CD4(+) T cell repertoire in healthy HIV-1-negative volunteers, the HLA-peptide tetramer enrichment and T cell library technique, and show high concordance (r = 0.989). Using the library technique, we examined whether naive, central memory, and/or effector memory CD4(+) T cells specific for overlapping peptides spanning the entire HIV-1 proteome were detectable in 10 HLA diverse, HIV-1-unexposed, seronegative donors. HIV-1-specific cells were detected in all donors at a mean of 55 cells/million naive cells and 38.9 and 34.1 cells/million in central and effector memory subsets. Remarkably, peptide mapping showed most epitopes recognized by naive (88%) and memory (56%) CD4(+) T cells had been previously reported in natural HIV-1 infection. Furthermore, 83% of epitopes identified in preexisting memory subsets shared epitope length matches (8-12 amino acids) with human microbiome proteins, suggestive of a possible cross-reactive mechanism. These results underline the power of a proteome-wide analysis of peptide recognition by human T cells for the identification of dominant antigens and provide a baseline for optimizing HIV-1-specific helper cell responses by vaccination.
BackgroundFitness costs and slower disease progression are associated with a cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) escape mutation T242N in Gag in HIV-1-infected individuals carrying HLA-B*57/5801 alleles. However, the impact of different context in diverse HIV-1 strains on the fitness costs due to the T242N mutation has not been well characterized. To better understand the extent of fitness costs of the T242N mutation and the repair of fitness loss through compensatory amino acids, we investigated its fitness impact in different transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses.ResultsThe T242N mutation resulted in various levels of fitness loss in four different T/F viruses. However, the fitness costs were significantly compromised by preexisting compensatory amino acids in (Isoleucine at position 247) or outside (glutamine at position 219) the CTL epitope. Moreover, the transmitted T242N escape mutant in subject CH131 was as fit as the revertant N242T mutant and the elimination of the compensatory amino acid I247 in the T/F viral genome resulted in significant fitness cost, suggesting the fitness loss caused by the T242N mutation had been fully repaired in the donor at transmission. Analysis of the global circulating HIV-1 sequences in the Los Alamos HIV Sequence Database showed a high prevalence of compensatory amino acids for the T242N mutation and other T cell escape mutations.ConclusionsOur results show that the preexisting compensatory amino acids in the majority of circulating HIV-1 strains could significantly compromise the fitness loss due to CTL escape mutations and thus increase challenges for T cell based vaccines.
Assessment of the effect of influenza on populations, including risk of infection, illness if infected, illness severity, and consultation rates, is essential to inform future control and prevention. We aimed to compare the community burden and severity of seasonal and pandemic influenza across different age groups and study years and gain insight into the extent to which traditional surveillance underestimates this burden.
4-1BB is expressed on invariant (i)NKT cells, but its role is unclear. We showed previously that iNKT cells are involved in control of monocyte numbers during influenza A virus (IAV) infection and now question the role of the 4-1BB costimulatory pathway in the cross-talk between these cells. We found that iNKT cells and monocytes interact to promote expression of 4-1BB and 4-1BBL, respectively. Blockade of 4-1BB/L pathway under resting coculture conditions increased apoptosis of iNKT cells and monocytes. However, activation of iNKT cells overrides this survival signal, causing marked apoptosis of monocytes independent of 4-1BB/L. Blocking 4-1BBL in alpha-galactosylceramide-activated iNKT-monocyte cocultures reduced iNKT proliferation and abrogated monocytic IL-12 production. In vivo, expression of 4-1BB and 4-1BBL is increased on iNKT cells and Ly6C(hi) monocytes, respectively, during IAV infection, and there were lower frequencies of apoptosing Ly6C(hi) monocytes in the blood of iNKT knockout mice and higher numbers of monocytes in lungs compared with infected wild-type mice. Adoptive transfer of iNKT cells into the lungs of these mice reduced lung Ly6C(hi) monocytes levels, even when iNKT cells were preincubated with 4-1BB blocking Abs. These findings suggest that under resting conditions, 4-1BB/L engagement during iNKT-monocyte interaction promotes survival of these cells. When iNKT cells are activated, whether by alpha-galactosylceramide or during IAV infection, iNKT cells induced apoptosis of monocytes via a 4-1BB/L-independent mechanism, reducing monocyte numbers. 4-1BB/L costimulation amplified monocyte-mediated proliferation of iNKT cells, indirectly providing a method for monocytes to control their own numbers during infection.
This volume on antigen presentation is dedicated to Brigitte Askonas. We summarize here her many contributions to immunology and the impact that her career had on many of us. Critical experimental work on antigen presentation was done in her laboratory under her direction, first examining responses to protein antigens, later examining viruses as she turned her attention to the immunology of infections.
Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder characterized by marked T-cell expansion of T helper 1 (Th1) cells. The cause of T-cell overactivity is unknown. We hypothesized that interleukin-10 (IL-10) production by a yet undefined cell type might be defective, resulting in loss of regulation of T-cell activity. Focusing on IL-10-producing monocytes, we first showed that monocytes isolated from the peripheral blood of corticosteroid-naïve sarcoidosis patients (n = 51) produced less IL-10 compared to controls, and were less able to suppress T-cell proliferation. In addition, monocytic IL-10 production correlated negatively with disease activity score. As invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are known to both interact with monocytes and be reduced in sarcoidosis patients, we then asked whether iNKT-specific defects might be responsible for this reduced IL-10 production. We found that greater numbers of circulating iNKT cells was associated with higher IL-10 production. Moreover, iNKT cells enhanced monocytic IL-10 production in vitro. Defective IL-10 production and T-cell suppression by sarcoidosis monocytes could be restored following their coculture with iNKT cells, in a CD1d- and cell contact-dependent process. We suggest that reduced iNKT-cell numbers in sarcoidosis may lead to impaired monocytic IL-10 production and unchecked T-cell expansion in sarcoidosis. These findings provide fresh insight into the mechanism of sarcoidosis disease, and interaction between iNKT cells and monocytes.
The search for a vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has many hurdles to overcome. Ideally, the stimulation of both broadly neutralizing antibodies and cell-mediated immune responses remains the best option, but no candidate in clinical trials at present has elicited such antibodies, and efficacy trials have not demonstrated any benefit for vaccines designed to stimulate immune responses of CD8(+) T cells. Findings obtained with the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) monkey model have provided new evidence that stimulating effective CD8(+) T cell immunity could provide protection, and in this Perspective we explore the path forward for optimizing such responses in humans.
?Antibodies play a major role in the protection against influenza virus in human. However, the antibody level is usually short-lived and the cellular mechanisms underlying influenza virus-specific antibody response to acute infection remain unclear.
Immune escape mutations that revert back to the consensus sequence frequently occur in newly HIV-1-infected individuals and have been thought to render the viruses more fit. However, their impact on viral fitness and their interaction with other immune escape mutations have not been evaluated in the background of their cognate transmitted/founder (T/F) viral genomes. To precisely determine the role of reversion mutations, we introduced reversion mutations alone or together with CD8+ T cell escape mutations in their unmodified cognate T/F viral genome and determined their impact on viral fitness in primary CD4+ T cells. Two reversion mutations, V247I and I64T, were identified in Gag and Tat, respectively, but neither had measurable effect on the fitness of their cognate T/F virus. The V247I and G248A mutations that were detected before and concurrently with the potent T cell escape mutation T242N, respectively, were selected by early T cell responses. The V247I or the G248A mutation alone partially restored the fitness loss caused by the T242N mutation. Together they could fully restore the fitness of the T242N mutant to the T/F level. These results demonstrate that the fitness loss caused by a T cell escape mutation could be compensated by preexisting or concurrent reversion and other T cell escape mutations. Our findings indicate that the overall viral fitness is modulated by the complex interplay among T cell escape, compensatory and reversion mutations to maintain the balance between immune escape and viral replication capacity.
Virus diversity and escape from immune responses are the biggest challenges to the development of an effective vaccine against HIV-1. We hypothesized that T-cell vaccines targeting the most conserved regions of the HIV-1 proteome, which are common to most variants and bear fitness costs when mutated, will generate effectors that efficiently recognize and kill virus-infected cells early enough after transmission to potentially impact on HIV-1 replication and will do so more efficiently than whole protein-based T-cell vaccines. Here, we describe the first-ever administration of conserved immunogen vaccines vectored using prime-boost regimens of DNA, simian adenovirus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara to uninfected UK volunteers. The vaccine induced high levels of effector T cells that recognized virus-infected autologous CD4(+) cells and inhibited HIV-1 replication by up to 5.79 log10. The virus inhibition was mediated by both Gag- and Pol- specific effector CD8(+) T cells targeting epitopes that are typically subdominant in natural infection. These results provide proof of concept for using a vaccine to target T cells at conserved epitopes, showing that these T cells can control HIV-1 replication in vitro.Molecular Therapy (2013); doi:10.1038/mt.2013.248.
We looked at our HIV?+?slow progressors cohort to determine if there were any human leukocyte antigen (HLA) correlates for protection. No statistically significant allelic differences were found between the HIV?+?and control cohorts using regression analysis, though trends were noted. Data for Elite Controllers showed an increased frequency of B*57. Likewise, no correlation was inferred with the clinical data of the HIV?+?cohort. We hypothesize that the protective effect of HLA alleles may have been lost over time.
HIV-exposed and yet persistently uninfected individuals have been an intriguing, repeated observation in multiple studies, but uncertainty persists on the significance and implications of this in devising protective strategies against HIV. We carried out a cross-sectional analysis of exposed uninfected partners in a Ugandan cohort of heterosexual serodiscordant couples (37.5% antiretroviral therapy naive) comparing their T cell responses to HIV peptides with those of unexposed uninfected individuals. We used an objective definition of exposure and inclusion criteria, blinded ex vivo and cultured gamma interferon (IFN-?) enzyme-linked immunospot assays, and multiparameter flow cytometry and intracellular cytokine staining to investigate the features of the HIV-specific response in exposed versus unexposed uninfected individuals. A response rate to HIV was detectable in unexposed uninfected (5.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.3 to 8.1%) and, at a significantly higher level (12.5%, 95% CI = 9.7 to 15.4%, P = 0.0004), in exposed uninfected individuals. The response rate to Gag was significantly higher in exposed uninfected (10/50 [20.%]) compared to unexposed uninfected (1/35 [2.9%]) individuals (P = 0.0004). The magnitude of responses was also greater in exposed uninfected individuals but not statistically significant. The average number of peptide pools recognized was significantly higher in exposed uninfected subjects than in unexposed uninfected subjects (1.21 versus 0.47; P = 0.0106). The proportion of multifunctional responses was different in the two groups, with a higher proportion of single cytokine responses, mostly IFN-?, in unexposed uninfected individuals compared to exposed uninfected individuals. Our findings demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative differences in T cell reactivity to HIV between HESN (HIV exposed seronegative) and HUSN (HIV unexposed seronegative) subject groups but do not discriminate as to whether they represent markers of exposure or of protection against HIV infection.
Interleukin-10 (IL-10) plays a key role in regulating proinflammatory immune responses to infection but can interfere with pathogen clearance. Although IL-10 is upregulated throughout HIV-1 infection in multiple cell subsets, whether this is a viral immune evasion strategy or an appropriate response to immune activation is unresolved. Analysis of IL-10 production at the single cell level in 51 chronically infected subjects (31 antiretroviral (ART) naïve and 20 ART treated) showed that a subset of CD8(+) T cells with a CD25(neg) FoxP3(neg) phenotype contributes substantially to IL-10 production in response to HIV-1 gag stimulation. The frequencies of gag-specific IL-10- and IFN-?-producing T cells in ART-naïve subjects were strongly correlated and the majority of these IL-10(+) CD8(+) T cells co-produced IFN-?; however, patients with a predominant IL-10(+) /IFN-?(neg) profile showed better control of viraemia. Depletion of HIV-specific CD8(+) IL-10(+) cells from PBMCs led to upregulation of CD38 on CD14(+) monocytes together with increased IL-6 production, in response to gag stimulation. Increased CD38 expression was positively correlated with the frequency of the IL-10(+) population and was also induced by exposure of monocytes to HIV-1 in vitro. Production of IL-10 by HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells may represent an adaptive regulatory response to monocyte activation during chronic infection.
Ferguson et al. (2013) use applied physics to quantitate the fitness of HIV-1 Gag based on sequence variability across the protein. This enables a new approach to vaccine design that focuses CD8+ T cell responses on fitness-constrained parts of Gag.
Human genetic variation contributes to differences in susceptibility to HIV-1 infection. To search for novel host resistance factors, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in hemophilia patients highly exposed to potentially contaminated factor VIII infusions. Individuals with hemophilia A and a documented history of factor VIII infusions before the introduction of viral inactivation procedures (1979-1984) were recruited from 36 hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs), and their genome-wide genetic variants were compared with those from matched HIV-infected individuals. Homozygous carriers of known CCR5 resistance mutations were excluded. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and inferred copy number variants (CNVs) were tested using logistic regression. In addition, we performed a pathway enrichment analysis, a heritability analysis, and a search for epistatic interactions with CCR5 ?32 heterozygosity. A total of 560 HIV-uninfected cases were recruited: 36 (6.4%) were homozygous for CCR5 ?32 or m303. After quality control and SNP imputation, we tested 1 081 435 SNPs and 3686 CNVs for association with HIV-1 serostatus in 431 cases and 765 HIV-infected controls. No SNP or CNV reached genome-wide significance. The additional analyses did not reveal any strong genetic effect. Highly exposed, yet uninfected hemophiliacs form an ideal study group to investigate host resistance factors. Using a genome-wide approach, we did not detect any significant associations between SNPs and HIV-1 susceptibility, indicating that common genetic variants of major effect are unlikely to explain the observed resistance phenotype in this population.
The SNP rs12252-C allele alters the function of interferon-induced transmembrane protein-3 increasing the disease severity of influenza virus infection in Caucasians, but the allele is rare. However, rs12252-C is much more common in Han Chinese. Here we report that the CC genotype is found in 69% of Chinese patients with severe pandemic influenza A H1N1/09 virus infection compared with 25% in those with mild infection. Specifically, the CC genotype was estimated to confer a sixfold greater risk for severe infection than the CT and TT genotypes. More importantly, because the risk genotype occurs with such a high frequency, its effect translates to a large population-attributable risk of 54.3% for severe infection in the Chinese population studied compared with 5.4% in Northern Europeans. Interferon-induced transmembrane protein-3 genetic variants could, therefore, have a strong effect of the epidemiology of influenza in China and in people of Chinese descent.
Current influenza vaccines stimulate neutralising antibody to the haemagglutinin antigen but as there is antigenic drift in HA it is difficult to prepare a vaccine in advance against an emergent strain. A potential strategy is to induce CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells that recognize epitopes within internal proteins that are less subject to antigenic drift. Augmenting humoral responses to HA with T cell responses to more conserved antigens may result in a more broadly protective vaccine. In this study, we evaluate the quality of influenza specific T cell responses in a clinical trial using MVA-NP+M1 vaccination followed by influenza virus challenge. In vaccinated volunteers, the expression of Granzyme A, Perforin and CD57 on influenza HLA A*02 M158-66 antigen specific cells was higher than non-vaccinated volunteers before and after challenge despite a similar frequency of antigen specific cells. BCL2 expression was lower in vaccinated volunteers. These data indicate that antigen specific T cells are a useful additional measure for use in human vaccination or immunization studies.
Most reported human H5N1 viral infections have been severe and were detected after hospital admission. A case ascertainment bias may therefore exist, with mild cases or asymptomatic infections going undetected. We sought evidence of mild or asymptomatic H5N1 infection by examining H5N1-specific T-cell and antibody responses in a high-risk cohort in Vietnam.
Little is known of how a strong immune response in the lungs is regulated to minimize tissue injury during severe influenza A virus (IAV) infection. Here, using a model of lethal, high-pathogenicity IAV infection, we first show that Ly6C(hi)Ly6G(-) inflammatory monocytes, and not neutrophils, are the main infiltrate in lungs of WT mice. Mice devoid of iNKT cells (J?18(-/-) mice) have increased levels of inflammatory monocytes, which correlated with increased lung injury and mortality (but not viral load). Activation of iNKT cells correlated with reduction of MCP-1 levels and improved outcome. iNKT cells were able to selectively lyse infected, MCP-1-producing monocytes in vitro, in a CD1d-dependent process. Our study provides a detailed profile and kinetics of innate immune cells in the lungs during severe IAV infection, highlighting inflammatory monocytes as the major infiltrate and identifying a role for iNKT cells in control of these cells and lung immune-pathology.
The CD1 family consists of five proteins that are related to the peptide-presenting MHC class I family. T cells can recognize the presentation of both foreign and self-derived lipids on four CD1 family members. The identities of the self-lipids capable of stimulating autoreactive T cell responses remain elusive or controversial. Here, we employed mass spectrometry to analyze the lipid content of highly purified CD1c and CD1d protein samples. We report the identification of 11 novel self-lipids presented by CD1c and nine by CD1d. Rigorous controls provide strong evidence that the identified lipids were specifically loaded into the lipid-binding site of the CD1 molecules. The diverse but distinct population of lipids identified from each CD1 family member implies each present a different subset of self-lipids, and the enrichment of particular motifs indicates that the lipids that are presented by CD1 family members could be predicted. Finally, our results imply the CD1 system surveys the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and/or secretory compartments, in addition to its well characterized surveillance of the endocytic and lysosomal compartments.
HIV-1 often evades cytotoxic T cell (CTL) responses by generating variants that are not recognized by CTLs. We used single-genome amplification and sequencing of complete HIV genomes to identify longitudinal changes in the transmitted/founder virus from the establishment of infection to the viral set point at 1 year after the infection. We found that the rate of viral escape from CTL responses in a given patient decreases dramatically from acute infection to the viral set point. Using a novel mathematical model that tracks the dynamics of viral escape at multiple epitopes, we show that a number of factors could potentially contribute to a slower escape in the chronic phase of infection, such as a decreased magnitude of epitope-specific CTL responses, an increased fitness cost of escape mutations, or an increased diversity of the CTL response. In the model, an increase in the number of epitope-specific CTL responses can reduce the rate of viral escape from a given epitope-specific CTL response, particularly if CD8+ T cells compete for killing of infected cells or control virus replication nonlytically. Our mathematical framework of viral escape from multiple CTL responses can be used to predict the breadth and magnitude of HIV-specific CTL responses that need to be induced by vaccination to reduce (or even prevent) viral escape following HIV infection.
A genome-wide screen for large structural variants showed that a copy number variant (CNV) in the region encoding killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) associates with HIV-1 control as measured by plasma viral load at set point in individuals of European ancestry. This CNV encompasses the KIR3DL1-KIR3DS1 locus, encoding receptors that interact with specific HLA-Bw4 molecules to regulate the activation of lymphocyte subsets including natural killer (NK) cells. We quantified the number of copies of KIR3DS1 and KIR3DL1 in a large HIV-1 positive cohort, and showed that an increase in KIR3DS1 count associates with a lower viral set point if its putative ligand is present (p = 0.00028), as does an increase in KIR3DL1 count in the presence of KIR3DS1 and appropriate ligands for both receptors (p = 0.0015). We further provide functional data that demonstrate that NK cells from individuals with multiple copies of KIR3DL1, in the presence of KIR3DS1 and the appropriate ligands, inhibit HIV-1 replication more robustly, and associated with a significant expansion in the frequency of KIR3DS1+, but not KIR3DL1+, NK cells in their peripheral blood. Our results suggest that the relative amounts of these activating and inhibitory KIR play a role in regulating the peripheral expansion of highly antiviral KIR3DS1+ NK cells, which may determine differences in HIV-1 control following infection.
Polymorphism in the HLA region of a chromosome is the major source of host genetic variability in HIV-1 outcome, but there is limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effect of protective class I alleles such as HLA-B57, -B27, and -B51. Taking advantage of a unique cohort infected with clade B HIV-1 through contaminated blood, in which many variables such as the length of infection, the infecting viral strain, and host genetic background are controlled, we performed a comprehensive study to understand HLA-B51-associated HIV-1 control. We focused on the T cell responses against three dominant HLA-B51-restricted epitopes: Gag327-345(NI9) NANPDCKTI, Pol743-751(LI9) LPPVVAKEI, and Pol283-289(TI8) TAFTIPSI. Mutations in all three dominant epitopes were significantly associated with HLA-B51 in the cohort. A clear hierarchy in selection of epitope mutations was observed through epitope sequencing. L743I in position 1 of epitope LI9 was seen in most B51(+) individuals, followed by V289X in position 8 of the TI8, and then, A328S, in position 2 of the NI9 epitope, was also seen in some B51(+) individuals. Good control of viral load and higher CD4(+) counts were significantly associated with at least one detectable T cell response to unmutated epitopes, whereas lower CD4(+) counts and higher viral loads were observed in patients who had developed escape mutations in all three epitopes or who lacked T cell responses specific to these epitope(s). We propose that patients with HLA-B51 benefit from having multiple layers of effective defense against the development of immune escape mutations.
To date, CCR5 variants remain the only human genetic factors to be confirmed to impact HIV-1 acquisition. However, protective CCR5 variants are largely absent in African populations, in which sporadic resistance to HIV-1 infection is still unexplained. We investigated whether common genetic variants associate with HIV-1 susceptibility in Africans.
Obstacles to developing an HIV-1 vaccine include extensive viral diversity and lack of correlates of protective immunity. High mutation rates allow HIV-1 to adapt rapidly to selective forces such as antiretroviral therapy and immune pressure, including HIV-1-specific CTLs that select viral variants which escape T-cell recognition. Multiple factors contribute to HIV-1 diversity, making it difficult to disentangle the contribution of CTL selection without using complex analytical approaches. We describe an HIV-1 outbreak in 231 former plasma donors in China, where a narrow-source virus that had contaminated the donation system was apparently transmitted to many persons contemporaneously. The genetic divergence now evident in these subjects should uniquely reveal how much viral diversity at the population level is solely attributable to host factors. We found significant correlations between pair-wise divergence of viral sequences and HLA class I genotypes across epitope-length windows in HIV-1 Gag, reverse transcriptase, integrase, and Nef, corresponding to sites of 140 HLA class I allele-associated viral polymorphisms. Of all polymorphic sites across these 4 proteins, 24%-56% were sites of HLA-associated selection. These data confirm that CTL pressure has a major effect on inter-host HIV-1 viral diversity and probably represents a key element of viral control.
CD1d is a MHC I like molecule which presents glycolipid to natural killer T (NKT) cells, a group of cells with diverse but critical immune regulatory functions in the immune system. These cells are required for optimal defence against bacterial, viral, protozoan, and fungal infections, and control of immune-pathology and autoimmune diseases. CD1d is expressed on antigen presenting cells but also found on some non-haematopoietic cells. However, it has not been observed on bronchial epithelium, a site of active host defence in the lungs. Here, we identify for the first time, CD1D mRNA variants and CD1d protein expression on human bronchial epithelial cells, describe six alternatively spliced transcripts of this gene in these cells; and show that these variants are specific to epithelial cells. These findings provide the basis for investigations into a role for CD1d in lung mucosal immunity.
A major challenge to developing a successful HIV vaccine is the vast diversity of viral sequences, yet it is generally assumed that an epitope conserved between different strains will be recognised by responding T-cells. We examined whether an invariant HLA-B8 restricted Nef????? epitope FL8 shared between five high titre viruses and eight recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing Nef from different viral isolates (clades A-H) could activate antiviral activity in FL8-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL). Surprisingly, despite epitope conservation, we found that CTL antiviral efficacy is dependent on the infecting viral isolate. Only 23% of Nef proteins, expressed by HIV-1 isolates or as recombinant vaccinia-Nef, were optimally recognised by CTL. Recognition of the HIV-1 isolates by CTL was independent of clade-grouping but correlated with virus-specific polymorphisms in the epitope flanking region, which altered immunoproteasomal cleavage resulting in enhanced or impaired epitope generation. The finding that the majority of virus isolates failed to present this conserved epitope highlights the importance of viral variance in CTL epitope flanking regions on the efficiency of antigen processing, which has been considerably underestimated previously. This has important implications for future vaccine design strategies since efficient presentation of conserved viral epitopes is necessary to promote enhanced anti-viral immune responses.
Mutations within MHC class I-restricted epitopes have been studied in relation to T cell-mediated immune escape, but their impact on NK cells via interaction with killer Ig-like receptors (KIRs) during early HIV infection is poorly understood. In two patients acutely infected with HIV-1, we observed the appearance of a mutation within the B*57-restricted TW10 epitope (G9E) that did not facilitate strong escape from T cell recognition. The NK cell receptor KIR3DL1, carried by these patients, is known to recognize HLA-B*5703 and is associated with good control of HIV-1. Therefore, we tested whether the G9E mutation influenced the binding of HLA-B*5703 to soluble KIR3DL1 protein by surface plasmon resonance, and while the wild-type sequence and a second (T3N) variant were recognized, the G9E variant abrogated KIR3DL1 binding. We extended the study to determine the peptide sensitivity of KIR3DL1 interaction with epitopes carrying mutations near the C termini of TW10 and a second HLA-B*57-restricted epitope, IW9. Several amino acid changes interfered with KIR3DL1 binding, the most extreme of which included the G9E mutation commonly selected by HLA-B*57. Our results imply that during HIV-1 infection, some early-emerging variants could affect KIR-HLA interaction, with possible implications for immune recognition.
Immunodominance in T cell responses to complex antigens like viruses is still incompletely understood. Some data indicate that the dominant responses to viruses are not necessarily the most protective, while other data imply that dominant responses are the most important. The issue is of considerable importance to the rational design of vaccines, particularly against variable escaping viruses like human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and hepatitis C virus. Here, we showed that sequential inactivation of dominant epitopes up-ranks the remaining subdominant determinants. Importantly, we demonstrated that subdominant epitopes can induce robust responses and protect against whole viruses if they are allowed at least once in the vaccination regimen to locally or temporally dominate T cell induction. Therefore, refocusing T cell immune responses away from highly variable determinants recognized during natural virus infection towards subdominant, but conserved regions is possible and merits evaluation in humans.
HIV-1-specific T lymphocyte responses in individuals exposed to HIV-1 but who remain persistently seronegative (HESNs) have been reported in some but not all previous studies. This study was designed to resolve unequivocally the question of whether HESNs make HIV-1-specific T cell responses. We performed a blind investigation to measure HIV-1-specific T cell responses in both HIV-1-serodiscordant couples and HIV-1-unexposed seronegative controls (HUSNs). We found low-frequency HIV-1-specific T cells in both HESNs and HUSNs but show that the response rates were higher over time in the former (P = 0.01). Furthermore, the magnitudes of the HIV-1-specific T cell responses were significantly higher among responding HESNs than among HUSNs over time (P = 0.002). In both groups, responses were mediated by CD4 T cells. The responses were mapped to single peptides, which often corresponded to epitopes restricted by multiple HLA-DR types that have previously been detected in HIV-1-infected patients. HIV-1-specific T cell responses in HUSNs and some HESNs likely represent cross-reactivity to self or foreign non-HIV-1 antigens. The significantly greater T cell responses in HESNs, including in two who were homozygous for CCR5?32, demonstrates that HIV-1-specific T cell responses can be induced or augmented by exposure to HIV-1 without infection.
CD4 Th cells producing the proinflammatory cytokine IL-17 (Th17) have been implicated in a number of inflammatory arthritides including the spondyloarthritides. Th17 development is promoted by IL-23. Ankylosing spondylitis, the most common spondyloarthritis (SpA), is genetically associated with both HLA-B27 (B27) and IL-23R polymorphisms; however, the link remains unexplained. We have previously shown that B27 can form H chain dimers (termed B27(2)), which, unlike classical HLA-B27, bind the killer-cell Ig-like receptor KIR3DL2. In this article, we show that B27(2)-expressing APCs stimulate the survival, proliferation, and IL-17 production of KIR3DL2(+) CD4 T cells. KIR3DL2(+) CD4 T cells are expanded and enriched for IL-17 production in the blood and synovial fluid of patients with SpA. Despite KIR3DL2(+) cells comprising a mean of just 15% of CD4 T in the peripheral blood of SpA patients, this subset accounted for 70% of the observed increase in Th17 numbers in SpA patients compared with control subjects. TCR-stimulated peripheral blood KIR3DL2(+) CD4 T cell lines from SpA patients secreted 4-fold more IL-17 than KIR3DL2(+) lines from controls or KIR3DL2(-) CD4 T cells. Strikingly, KIR3DL2(+) CD4 T cells account for the majority of peripheral blood CD4 T cell IL-23R expression and produce more IL-17 in the presence of IL-23. Our findings link HLA-B27 with IL-17 production and suggest new therapeutic strategies in ankylosing spondylitis/SpA.
Previous studies have found an association between a single-nucleotide polymorphism 35 kb upstream of the HLA-C locus (-35 SNP), HLA-C expression, and HIV-1 set point viral loads. We show that the difference in HLA-C expression across -35 SNP genotypes can be attributed primarily to the very low expression of a single allelic product, HLA-Cw7, which is a common HLA type. We suggest that association of the -35 SNP and HIV-1 load manifests as a result of linkage disequilibrium of this polymorphism with both favorable and unfavorable HLA-C and -B alleles.
In the present study, we analyzed the functional profile of CD8+ T-cell responses directed against autologous transmitted/founder HIV-1 isolates during acute and early infection, and examined whether multifunctionality is required for selection of virus escape mutations. Seven anti-retroviral therapy-naïve subjects were studied in detail between 1 and 87 weeks following onset of symptoms of acute HIV-1 infection. Synthetic peptides representing the autologous transmitted/founder HIV-1 sequences were used in multiparameter flow cytometry assays to determine the functionality of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T memory cells. In all seven patients, the earliest T cell responses were predominantly oligofunctional, although the relative contribution of multifunctional cell responses increased significantly with time from infection. Interestingly, only the magnitude of the total and not of the poly-functional T-cell responses was significantly associated with the selection of escape mutants. However, the high contribution of MIP-1?-producing CD8+ T-cells to the total response suggests that mechanisms not limited to cytotoxicity could be exerting immune pressure during acute infection. Lastly, we show that epitope entropy, reflecting the capacity of the epitope to tolerate mutational change and defined as the diversity of epitope sequences at the population level, was also correlated with rate of emergence of escape mutants.
A current strategy for the design of neutralizing antibody-based vaccines to prevent HIV-1 transmission is that of reverse engineering, starting from a neutralizing antibody and working back to reconstruct its epitope by structure-based design technology. However, the field has been impeded by a lack of appropriate antibodies for use as templates. Recently, new antibodies have been described that may fulfil this role, invigorating the field.
We used ultra-deep sequencing to obtain tens of thousands of HIV-1 sequences from regions targeted by CD8+ T lymphocytes from longitudinal samples from three acutely infected subjects, and modeled viral evolution during the critical first weeks of infection. Previous studies suggested that a single virus established productive infection, but these conclusions were tempered because of limited sampling; now, we have greatly increased our confidence in this observation through modeling the observed earliest sample diversity based on vastly more extensive sampling. Conventional sequencing of HIV-1 from acute/early infection has shown different patterns of escape at different epitopes; we investigated the earliest escapes in exquisite detail. Over 3-6 weeks, ultradeep sequencing revealed that the virus explored an extraordinary array of potential escape routes in the process of evading the earliest CD8 T-lymphocyte responses--using 454 sequencing, we identified over 50 variant forms of each targeted epitope during early immune escape, while only 2-7 variants were detected in the same samples via conventional sequencing. In contrast to the diversity seen within epitopes, non-epitope regions, including the Envelope V3 region, which was sequenced as a control in each subject, displayed very low levels of variation. In early infection, in the regions sequenced, the consensus forms did not have a fitness advantage large enough to trigger reversion to consensus amino acids in the absence of immune pressure. In one subject, a genetic bottleneck was observed, with extensive diversity at the second time point narrowing to two dominant escape forms by the third time point, all within two months of infection. Traces of immune escape were observed in the earliest samples, suggesting that immune pressure is present and effective earlier than previously reported; quantifying the loss rate of the founder virus suggests a direct role for CD8 T-lymphocyte responses in viral containment after peak viremia. Dramatic shifts in the frequencies of epitope variants during the first weeks of infection revealed a complex interplay between viral fitness and immune escape.
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to assess whether the immunogenicity of seasonal and pandemic (H1N1/09) influenza vaccines is affected by the order of vaccine administration. 151 healthy adult volunteers were randomized into three groups. All groups received one dose (15 ?g haemagglutinin) each of a pandemic H1N1 vaccine and a seasonal trivalent vaccine. Group 1 received the pandemic H1N1 vaccine first, followed by the seasonal vaccine 21 days later. Group 2 received vaccinations in vice versa and Group 3 received both vaccines simultaneously. Post-vaccination blood samples were collected to determine the immunogenicity by hemagglutination-inhibition (HI), microneutralization (MN), and B cell ELISPOT assays. All three vaccination strategies were well-tolerated and generated specific immune responses. However, we found a significant difference in magnitude of antibody responses to pandemic H1N1 between the three groups. Pre- or co-vaccination with the seasonal flu vaccine led to a significant reduction by 50% in HI titre to pandemic H1N1 virus after pandemic vaccination. Pre- or co-vaccination of pandemic H1N1 vaccine had no effect on seasonal flu vaccination. MN and ELISPOT assays showed a similar effect. Vaccination with pandemic H1N1 vaccine first is recommended to avoid an associated inhibitory effect by the seasonal trivalent flu vaccine.
We investigated whether vaccination of healthy HIV-seronegative and HIV-1-seropositive antiretroviral therapy-treated subjects with recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara expressing an HIV-1 immunogen (MVA.HIVA) induced MVA-specific T cell responses. Using IFN-? Elispot assays, we observed new or increased responses to MVA virus in 52% of HIV-seronegative subjects and 93% HIV-1 seropositive subjects; MVA-specific T cell frequencies were generally low and correlated poorly with T cell responses to the HIV-1 immunogen. In two vaccinees, responses were mapped to CD8+ T cell epitopes present in replication-competent vaccinia virus. These data support further evaluation of MVA as a viral vector for HIV-1 immunogens.
A novel T-cell vaccine strategy designed to deal with the enormity of HIV-1 variation is described and tested for the first time in macaques to inform and complement approaching clinical trials. T-cell immunogen HIVconsv, which directs vaccine-induced responses to the most conserved regions of the HIV-1, proteome and thus both targets diverse clades in the population and reduces the chance of escape in infected individuals, was delivered using six different vaccine modalities: plasmid DNA (D), attenuated human (A) and chimpanzee (C) adenoviruses, modified vaccinia virus Ankara (M), synthetic long peptides, and Semliki Forest virus replicons. We confirmed that the initial DDDAM regimen, which mimics one of the clinical schedules (DDDCM), is highly immunogenic in macaques. Furthermore, adjuvanted synthetic long peptides divided into sub-pools and delivered into anatomically separate sites induced T-cell responses that were markedly broader than those elicited by traditional single-open-reading-frame genetic vaccines and increased by 30% the overall response magnitude compared with DDDAM. Thus, by improving both the HIV-1-derived immunogen and vector regimen/delivery, this approach could induce stronger, broader, and theoretically more protective T-cell responses than vaccines previously used in humans.
HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T cells are present in most HIV-1-infected people and play an important role in controlling viral replication, but the characteristics of an effective HIV-specific T-cell response are largely unknown. The majority of HIV-2-infected people behave as long-term non-progressors while those who progress to AIDS do so in a manner indistinguishable from HIV-1. A detailed study of HIV-2 infection may identify protective immune responses. Robust gag p26-specific T-cell responses are elicited during HIV-2 infection and correlate with control of viremia. In this study, we analyzed features of an HLA-B 3501-restricted T-cell response to HIV-2 p26 that may contribute to virus control. In contrast to HIV-1, HIV-2-specific T cells are at an early stage of differentiation (CD27(+)CD28(+)), a finding that relates directly to CD4(+) T-cell levels and inversely to immune activation. The cells demonstrate IFN-gamma secretion, oligoclonal T-cell receptor Vbeta gene segment usage, exceptional avidity and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Despite the potentially strong selection pressure imposed on the virus by these cells, there was no evidence of HIV-2 sequence evolution. We propose that in chronic HIV-2 infection, the maintenance of early-differentiated, highly avid CD8(+) T cells could account for the non-progressive course of disease. Such responses may be desirable from an HIV vaccine.
The earliest immune responses activated in acute human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection (AHI) exert a critical influence on subsequent virus spread or containment. During this time frame, components of the innate immune system such as macrophages and DCs, NK cells, beta-defensins, complement and other anti-microbial factors, which have all been implicated in modulating HIV infection, may play particularly important roles. A proteomics-based screen was performed on a cohort from whom samples were available at time points prior to the earliest positive HIV detection. The ability of selected factors found to be elevated in the plasma during AHI to inhibit HIV-1 replication was analyzed using in vitro PBMC and DC infection models. Analysis of unique plasma donor panels spanning the eclipse and viral expansion phases revealed very early alterations in plasma proteins in AHI. Induction of acute phase protein serum amyloid A (A-SAA) occurred as early as 5-7 days prior to the first detection of plasma viral RNA, considerably prior to any elevation in systemic cytokine levels. Furthermore, a proteolytic fragment of alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), termed virus inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), was observed in plasma coincident with viremia. Both A-SAA and VIRIP have anti-viral activity in vitro and quantitation of their plasma levels indicated that circulating concentrations are likely to be within the range of their inhibitory activity. Our results provide evidence for a first wave of host anti-viral defense occurring in the eclipse phase of AHI prior to systemic activation of other immune responses. Insights gained into the mechanism of action of acute-phase reactants and other innate molecules against HIV and how they are induced could be exploited for the future development of more efficient prophylactic vaccine strategies.
The human respiratory tract is a major site of avian influenza A(H5N1) infection. However, many humans infected with H5N1 present with gastrointestinal tract symptoms, suggesting that this may also be a target for the virus. In this study, we demonstrated that the human gut expresses abundant avian H5N1 receptors, is readily infected ex vivo by the H5N1 virus, and produces infectious viral particles in organ culture. An autopsy colonic sample from an H5N1-infected patient showed evidence of viral antigen expression in the gut epithelium. Our results provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that H5N1 can directly target human gut tissues.
The hallmark of chronic viral infections is a progressive exhaustion of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells that leads to persisting viral replication. It is generally believed that exhaustion is a consequence of the accumulation of multiple inhibitory receptors on CD8(+) T cells that makes them dysfunctional. Here, we show that during human chronic HIV-1 infection, a CD8(+) T-cell positive costimulatory pathway mediated by DNAX-activating molecule-1 is also disrupted. Thus, DNAX-activating molecule-1 downregulation on CD8(+) T cells aggravates the impairment of CTL effector function in chronic HIV-1 infection.
Approximately 60 to 70% of patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis have disease that resolves spontaneously; the rest follow a chronic course with varying levels of fibrosis. It is unclear why some patients progress and if treatment affects outcome.
The broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibody 4E10 recognizes an epitope very close to the virus membrane on the glycoprotein gp41. It was previously shown that epitope recognition improves in a membrane context and that 4E10 binds directly, albeit weakly, to lipids. Furthermore, a crystal structure of Fab 4E10 complexed to an epitope peptide revealed that the centrally placed, protruding H3 loop of the antibody heavy chain does not form peptide contacts. To investigate the hypothesis that the H3 loop apex might interact with the viral membrane, two Trp residues in this region were substituted separately or in combination with either Ala or Asp by site-directed mutagenesis. The resultant IgG variants exhibited similar affinities for an epitope peptide as WT 4E10 but lower apparent affinities for both viral membrane mimetic liposomes and Env(-) virus. Variants also exhibited lower apparent affinities for Env(+) virions and failed to significantly neutralize a number of 4E10-sensitive viruses. For the extremely sensitive HXB2 virus, variants did neutralize, but at 37- to >250-fold lower titers than WT 4E10, with Asp substitutions exerting a greater effect on neutralization potency than Ala substitutions. Because reductions in lipid binding reflect trends in neutralization potency, we conclude that Trp residues in the antibody H3 loop enable membrane proximal epitope recognition through favorable lipid interactions. The requirement for lipophilic residues such as Trp adjacent to the antigen binding site may explain difficulties in eliciting 4E10-like neutralizing antibody responses by immunization and helps define a unique motif for antibody recognition of membrane proximal antigens.
The early immune response to HIV-1 infection is likely to be an important factor in determining the clinical course of disease. Recent data indicate that the HIV-1 quasispecies that arise following a mucosal infection are usually derived from a single transmitted virus. Moreover, the finding that the first effective immune responses drive the selection of virus escape mutations provides insight into the earliest immune responses against the transmitted virus and their contributions to the control of acute viraemia. Strong innate and adaptive immune responses occur subsequently but they are too late to eliminate the infection. In this Review, we discuss recent studies on the kinetics and quality of early immune responses to HIV-1 and their implications for developing a successful preventive HIV-1 vaccine.
We investigated whether therapeutic vaccination in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-treated patients with a modified vaccinia virus Ankara-vectored HIV-1 vaccine, with or without therapy interruption, induced the production of interleukin (IL)-10. Plasma IL-10 levels were not significantly increased postvaccination, but increased in parallel with viraemia in patients who interrupted therapy. Surprisingly, IL-10 blockade augmented HIV-specific T cell proliferative responses in HAART-suppressed patients but had no effect once virological control was lost. Modulation of IL-10 might enhance vaccine-induced immune responses.
Quantitating the frequency of T cell cross-reactivity to unrelated peptides is essential to understanding T cell responses in infectious and autoimmune diseases. Here we used 15 mouse or human CD8+ T cell clones (11 antiviral, 4 anti-self) in conjunction with a large library of defined synthetic peptides to examine nearly 30,000 TCR-peptide MHC class I interactions for cross-reactions. We identified a single cross-reaction consisting of an anti-self TCR recognizing a poxvirus peptide at relatively low sensitivity. We failed to identify any cross-reactions between the synthetic peptides in the panel and polyclonal CD8+ T cells raised to viral or alloantigens. These findings provide the best estimate to date of the frequency of T cell cross-reactivity to unrelated peptides ( approximately 1/30,000), explaining why cross-reactions between unrelated pathogens are infrequently encountered and providing a critical parameter for understanding the scope of self-tolerance.
Persistence of memory CD8(+) T cells is known to be largely controlled by common gamma chain cytokines, such as IL-2, IL-7 and IL-15. However, other molecules may be involved in this phenomenon. We show here that TLR2(-/-) mice have a decreased frequency of memory phenotype CD8(+) T cells when compared with WT mice. This prompted us to investigate the role of TLR2 in the homeostasis of memory CD8(+) T cells. We describe here a new TLR2-dependent mechanism which, in the absence of specific antigen, directly controls memory CD8(+) T-cell proliferation and IFN-gamma secretion. We demonstrate that TLR2 engagement on memory CD8(+) T cells increases their proliferation and expansion induced by IL-7 both in vitro and in vivo. We also show that TLR2 ligands act in synergy with IL-2 to induce IFN-gamma secretion in vitro. Both conclusions are obtained with spontaneously arising memory phenotype and antigen-specific memory CD8(+) T cells. Altogether, our data support the idea that continuous TLR2 signaling in response to microbial stimuli or endogenous danger signals might directly contribute to the maintenance of the diversity memory CD8(+) T cells in the organism.
Novel candidate HIV-1 vaccines have been constructed, which are tailor-designed for HLA-B*5101(+) patients infected with HIV-1 clade B. These vaccines employ novel immunogen HIVB-B*5101 derived from consensus HIV-1 clade B Gag p17 and p24 regions coupled to two Pol-derived B*5101-restricted epitopes, which are together with a third B*5101 epitope in Gag dominant in HIV-1-infected long-term non-progressing patients. Both plasmid DNA and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors supported high expression levels of the HIVB-B*5101 immunogen in cultured cells. Heterologous DNA prime-recombinant MVA boost regimen induced efficiently HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses in BALB/c mice. These vaccine-elicited T cells were multifunctional, killed efficiently target cells in vivo, and protected mice against challenge with ecotropic HIV-1/NL4-3 and ecotropic HIV-1/NDK chimaeric viruses with HIV-1 clade B or D backbones, respectively, and ecotropic murine leukemia virus gp80 envelope, and therefore did so in the absence of anti-HIV-1 gp120 antibodies. These results support further development of HIVB-B*5101 vaccines in combined heterologous-modality regimens. The use of allele-specific vaccines in humans is discussed in the context of other developments in the HIV-1 field.
To extend the understanding of host genetic determinants of HIV-1 control, we performed a genome-wide association study in a cohort of 2,554 infected Caucasian subjects. The study was powered to detect common genetic variants explaining down to 1.3% of the variability in viral load at set point. We provide overwhelming confirmation of three associations previously reported in a genome-wide study and show further independent effects of both common and rare variants in the Major Histocompatibility Complex region (MHC). We also examined the polymorphisms reported in previous candidate gene studies and fail to support a role for any variant outside of the MHC or the chemokine receptor cluster on chromosome 3. In addition, we evaluated functional variants, copy-number polymorphisms, epistatic interactions, and biological pathways. This study thus represents a comprehensive assessment of common human genetic variation in HIV-1 control in Caucasians.
Identification of the transmitted/founder virus makes possible, for the first time, a genome-wide analysis of host immune responses against the infecting HIV-1 proteome. A complete dissection was made of the primary HIV-1-specific T cell response induced in three acutely infected patients. Cellular assays, together with new algorithms which identify sites of positive selection in the virus genome, showed that primary HIV-1-specific T cells rapidly select escape mutations concurrent with falling virus load in acute infection. Kinetic analysis and mathematical modeling of virus immune escape showed that the contribution of CD8 T cell-mediated killing of productively infected cells was earlier and much greater than previously recognized and that it contributed to the initial decline of plasma virus in acute infection. After virus escape, these first T cell responses often rapidly waned, leaving or being succeeded by T cell responses to epitopes which escaped more slowly or were invariant. These latter responses are likely to be important in maintaining the already established virus set point. In addition to mutations selected by T cells, there were other selected regions that accrued mutations more gradually but were not associated with a T cell response. These included clusters of mutations in envelope that were targeted by NAbs, a few isolated sites that reverted to the consensus sequence, and bystander mutations in linkage with T cell-driven escape.
The pattern of viral diversification in newly infected individuals provides information about the host environment and immune responses typically experienced by the newly transmitted virus. For example, sites that tend to evolve rapidly across multiple early-infection patients could be involved in enabling escape from common early immune responses, could represent adaptation for rapid growth in a newly infected host, or could represent reversion from less fit forms of the virus that were selected for immune escape in previous hosts. Here we investigated the diversification of HIV-1 env coding sequences in 81 very early B subtype infections previously shown to have resulted from transmission or expansion of single viruses (n = 78) or two closely related viruses (n = 3). In these cases, the sequence of the infecting virus can be estimated accurately, enabling inference of both the direction of substitutions as well as distinction between insertion and deletion events. By integrating information across multiple acutely infected hosts, we find evidence of adaptive evolution of HIV-1 env and identify a subset of codon sites that diversified more rapidly than can be explained by a model of neutral evolution. Of 24 such rapidly diversifying sites, 14 were either i) clustered and embedded in CTL epitopes that were verified experimentally or predicted based on the individuals HLA or ii) in a nucleotide context indicative of APOBEC-mediated G-to-A substitutions, despite having excluded heavily hypermutated sequences prior to the analysis. In several cases, a rapidly evolving site was embedded both in an APOBEC motif and in a CTL epitope, suggesting that APOBEC may facilitate early immune escape. Ten rapidly diversifying sites could not be explained by CTL escape or APOBEC hypermutation, including the most frequently mutated site, in the fusion peptide of gp41. We also examined the distribution, extent, and sequence context of insertions and deletions, and we provide evidence that the length variation seen in hypervariable loop regions of the envelope glycoprotein is a consequence of selection and not of mutational hotspots. Our results provide a detailed view of the process of diversification of HIV-1 following transmission, highlighting the role of CTL escape and hypermutation in shaping viral evolution during the establishment of new infections.
T-cell interaction with a target cell is a key event in the adaptive immune response and primarily driven by T-cell receptor (TCR) recognition of peptide-MHC (pMHC) complexes. TCR avidity for a given pMHC is determined by number of MHC molecules, availability of coreceptors, and TCR affinity for MHC or peptide, respectively, with peptide recognition being the most important factor to confer target specificity. Here we present high-resolution crystal structures of 2 Fab antibodies in complex with the immunodominant NY-ESO-1(157-165) peptide analogue (SLLMWITQV) presented by HLA-A*0201 and compare them with a TCR recognizing the same pMHC. Binding to the central methionine-tryptophan peptide motif and orientation of binding were almost identical for Fabs and TCR. As the MW "peg" dominates the contacts between Fab and peptide, we estimated the contributions of individual amino acids between the Fab and peptide to provide the rational basis for a peptide-focused second-generation, high-affinity antibody library. The final Fab candidate achieved better peptide binding by 2 light-chain mutations, giving a 20-fold affinity improvement to 2-4 nM, exceeding the affinity of the TCR by 1,000-fold. The high-affinity Fab when grafted as recombinant TCR on T cells conferred specific killing of HLA-A*0201/NY-ESO-1(157-165) target cells. In summary, we prove that affinity maturation of antibodies mimicking a TCR is possible and provide a strategy for engineering high-affinity antibodies that can be used in targeting specific pMHC complexes for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
Although cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in people infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 can potentially target multiple virus epitopes, the same few are recognized repeatedly. We show here that CTL immunodominance in regions of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 group-associated antigen proteins p17 and p24 correlated with epitope abundance, which was strongly influenced by proteasomal digestion profiles, affinity for the transporter protein TAP, and trimming mediated by the endoplasmatic reticulum aminopeptidase ERAAP, and was moderately influenced by HLA affinity. Structural and functional analyses demonstrated that proteasomal cleavage preferences modulated the number and length of epitope-containing peptides, thereby affecting the response avidity and clonality of T cells. Cleavage patterns were affected by both flanking and intraepitope CTL-escape mutations. Our analyses show that antigen processing shapes CTL response hierarchies and that viral evolution modifies cleavage patterns and suggest strategies for in vitro vaccine optimization.
Induction of a long-term immunological memory, which can expand and defend the host upon pathogen encounter, is the "holy grail" of vaccinology. Here, using a sensitive cultured IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay, we show that 50% (15 out of 30) of healthy, HIV-1/2-uninfected volunteers who received pTHr.HIVA DNA prime-modified vaccinia virus Ankara. HIVA boost vaccine regimen 1 to 3 1/2 years ago had detectable HIV-1-specific T-cell responses. These T cells, predominantly of the CD4(+) subtype, could proliferate and produce multiple cytokines in response to in vitro peptide stimulation. Peptide mapping studies showed that the vaccine-induced CD4(+) T cells were mostly directed toward epitopes targeted in HIV-1-infected individuals. In addition, we used the same assay to re-evaluate 51 volunteers from past vaccine trial IAVI-006 and corrected the previously reported 10% of vaccine responders to 50%. Thus, we confirmed that cultured assays are a valuable tool for studying T-cell memory. These results are discussed in the context of the current state-of-affairs of the HIV-1 vaccine field.
Generating a protective immune response to viral infection is known to depend upon the priming and clonal expansion of virus-specific CD8(+) T cells by Ag-loaded dendritic cells (DC) within secondary lymphoid tissue. However, the actual initiation of the response involves critical upstream events that control the recruitment of mature Ag-charged DC from the periphery via afferent lymphatics, events that are still only partly understood. Recent evidence has revealed that transmigration of lymphatic endothelium by DC is regulated by the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 both in vitro and in vivo. These findings imply that lymphatic entry may be an important rate-limiting step in primary immunity and a possible target for immune intervention. In this study, we have explored such possibilities using an F(5) TCR-transgenic mouse model to assess the contribution of lymphatic cell adhesion molecules in the CD8(+) T cell response to influenza virus nucleoprotein (NP). We show for the first time that immunization with ICAM-1- and VCAM-1-blocking mAbs can impair the T cell response in lymph node-draining sites of dermally administered nucleoprotein vaccine (MVA.HIVA.NP) by targeting lymphatic uptake of Ag-loaded DC ahead of other cell adhesion molecule-dependent events. These results reveal lymphatic entry as an important step that may be rate limiting in the development of immunity and reconfirm its potential as a target for localized immunotherapy in inflammation and tissue rejection.
There is much evidence that T cells may be activated via mechanisms that act independently of direct TCR ligation. Despite this, the question of whether such forms of bystander T cell activation occur during immune responses is hotly debated. To address some outstanding questions, we set up an in vitro system within which to analyze bystander T cell activation in human T cells, in the absence of the possibility for TCR cross-reactivity. In addition, we have investigated the genetic, phenotypic, and functional characteristics of bystander-activated T cells. In this study, we show that bystander T cell activation is, indeed, observed during a specific immune response, and that it occurs preferentially among CD4(+) memory T cells. Furthermore, bystander-activated T cells display a distinct gene expression profile. The mechanism for bystander T cell activation involves soluble factors, and the outcome is an elevated level of apoptosis. This may provide an explanation for the attrition of T cell memory pools of heterologous specificity during immune responses to pathogens such as viruses.
To better understand the mechanisms of intracellular trafficking and presentation of exogenous peptides by antigen-presenting cells (APC), we compared the handling of overlapping 24-mer peptides from HIV Nef either mixed or covalently linked in tandem in one protein. Once internalized, peptides trafficked not only to endosomes but also to cytosol, and activated CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells. In contrast, whole protein was found to traffic only to the endosomal compartments, and primarily activated CD4(+) T cells. Finally, with adjuvant, overlapping peptides were capable of protecting against lethal viral challenge, whereas the intact protein was less protective. These data suggest that overlapping long peptides are cross-presented through more varied intracellular routes and are more efficient in priming protective immunity than the whole protein.
HIV-1 accumulates mutations in and around reactive epitopes to escape recognition and killing by CD8+ T cells. Measurements of HIV-1 time to escape should therefore provide information on which parameters are most important for T cell-mediated in vivo control of HIV-1. Primary HIV-1-specific T cell responses were fully mapped in 17 individuals, and the time to virus escape, which ranged from days to years, was measured for each epitope. While higher magnitude of an individual T cell response was associated with more rapid escape, the most significant T cell measure was its relative immunodominance measured in acute infection. This identified subject-level or "vertical" immunodominance as the primary determinant of in vivo CD8+ T cell pressure in HIV-1 infection. Conversely, escape was slowed significantly by lower population variability, or entropy, of the epitope targeted. Immunodominance and epitope entropy combined to explain half of all the variability in time to escape. These data explain how CD8+ T cells can exert significant and sustained HIV-1 pressure even when escape is very slow and that within an individual, the impacts of other T cell factors on HIV-1 escape should be considered in the context of immunodominance.
Polymorphic differences distinguishing MHC class I subtypes often permit the presentation of shared epitopes in conformationally identical formats but can affect T-cell repertoire selection, differentially impacting autoimmune susceptibilities and viral clearance in vivo. The molecular mechanisms underlying this effect are not well understood. We performed structural, thermodynamic, and functional analyses of a conserved T-cell receptor (TCR) which is frequently expanded in response to a HIV-1 epitope when presented by HLA-B*5701 but is not selected by HLA-B*5703, which differs from HLA-B*5701 by two concealed polymorphisms. Our findings illustrate that although both HLA-B*57 subtypes display the epitope in structurally conserved formats, the impact of their polymorphic differences occurs directly as a consequence of TCR ligation, primarily because of peptide adjustments required for TCR binding, which involves the interplay of polymorphic residues and water molecules. These minor differences culminate in subtype-specific differential TCR-binding kinetics and cellular function. Our data demonstrate a potential mechanism whereby the most subtle MHC class I micropolymorphisms can influence TCR use and highlight their implications for disease outcomes.
A modest change in HIV-1 fitness can have a significant impact on viral quasispecies evolution and viral pathogenesis, transmission and disease progression. To determine the impact of immune escape mutations selected by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) on viral fitness in the context of the cognate transmitted/founder (T/F) genome, we developed a new competitive fitness assay using molecular clones of T/F genomes lacking exogenous genetic markers and a highly sensitive and precise parallel allele-specific sequencing (PASS) method.
HIV is a disease in which the original clinical observations of severe opportunistic infections gave the first clues regarding the underlying pathology, namely that HIV is essentially an infection of the immune system. HIV infects and deletes CD4(+) T cells that normally coordinate the adaptive T- and B-cell response to defend against intracellular pathogens. The immune defect is immediate and profound: At the time of acute infection with an AIDS virus, typically more than half of the gut-associated CD4(+) T cells are depleted, leaving a damaged immune system to contend with a life-long infection.
Protective immunity to chronic and acute viral infection relies on both the innate and adaptive immune response. Although neutralizing antibody production by B cells and cytotoxic activity of CD8(+) T cells are well-accepted components of the adaptive immune response to viruses, identification of the specific role of CD4(+) T cells in protection has been more challenging to establish. Delineating the contribution of CD4(+) T cells has been complicated by their functional heterogeneity, breadth in antigen specificity, transient appearance in circulation, and sequestration in tissue sites of infection. In this minireview, we discuss recent progress in identifying the multiple roles of CD4(+) T cells in orchestrating and mediating the immune responses against viral pathogens. We highlight several recent reports, including one published in this issue, that have employed comprehensive and sophisticated approaches to provide new evidence for CD4(+) T cells as direct effectors in antiviral immunity.
Human leukocyte antigen HLA-B alleles have better protective activity against HIV-1 than HLA-A alleles, possibly due to differences in HLA-restricted HIV-1-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) function, but the mechanism is unknown. HIV-1 negative regulatory factor (Nef) mediates down-regulation of surface expression of class I HLA (HLA-I) and may therefore impair immune recognition by CTL. Because of sequence differences in the cytoplasmic domains, HLA-A and -B are down-regulated by Nef but HLA-C and -E are not affected. However, the latter are expressed at low levels and are not of major importance in the CTL responses to HIV-1. Here, we compared the role of the cytoplasmic domains of HLA-A and -B in Nef-mediated escape from CTL. We found HLA-B cytoplasmic domains were more resistant to Nef-mediated down-regulation than HLA-A cytoplasmic domains and demonstrated that these differences affect CTL recognition of virus-infected cells in vitro. We propose that the relative resistance to Nef-mediated down-regulation by the cytoplasmic domains of HLA-B compared with HLA-A contributes to the better control of HIV-1 infection associated with HLA-B-restricted CTLs.
A large body of functional and epidemiological evidence have previously illustrated the impact of specific MHC class I subtypes on clinical outcome during HIV-1 infection, and these observations have recently been re-iterated in genome wide association studies (GWAS). Yet because of the complexities surrounding GWAS-based approaches and the lack of knowledge relating to the identity of rarer single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variants, it has proved difficult to discover independent causal variants associated with favourable immune control. This is especially true of the candidate variants within the HLA region where many of the recently proposed disease influencing SNPs appear to reflect linkage with protective MHC class I alleles. Yet causal MHC-linked SNPs may exist but remain overlooked owing to the complexities associated with their identification. Here we focus on the ancestral TNF? promoter -237A variant (rs361525), shown historically to be in complete linkage disequilibrium with the protective HLA-B*5701 allele. Many of the ancestral SNPs within the extended TNF? promoter have been associated with both autoimmune conditions and disease outcomes, however, the direct role of these variants on TNF? expression remains controversial. Yet, because of the important role played by TNF? in HIV-1 infection, and given the proximity of the -237 SNP to the core promoter, its location within a putative repressor region previously characterized in mice, and its disruption of a methylation-susceptible CpG dinucleotide motif, we chose to carefully evaluate its impact on TNF? production. Using a variety of approaches we now demonstrate that carriage of the A SNP is associated with lower TNF? production, via a mechanism not readily explained by promoter methylation nor the binding of transcription factors or repressors. We propose that the -237A variant could represent a minor causal SNP that additionally contributes to the HLA-B*5701-mediated protective effect during HIV-1 infection.
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