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Viral Immunol. 2004;17(2):144-51.

Structural constraints on viral escape from HIV- and SIV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes.

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  • 1Division of Viral Pathogenesis, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) play a central role in controlling lentiviral infections in both humans and monkeys. While they contain the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), CTL are not capable of fully eradicating virus following infection. Ongoing viral replication can therefore lead to the accumulation of viral mutations within CTL epitopes that can undermine cellular immune control of virus. Here we review the importance of CTL in controlling HIV/SIV infection and how immunologic pressure exerted by effector T cells selects for viral variants that escape CTL recognition. We review two examples of viral escape from CTL at highly conserved epitopes that illustrate the extraordinary capacity of lentiviruses to adapt to their immunologic environment despite structural constraints on the ability of the virus to accommodate mutations.

Copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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