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J Virol. 2006 Feb;80(4):1949-58.

Involvement of multiple epitope-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses in vaccine-based control of simian immunodeficiency virus replication in rhesus macaques.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses are crucial for the control of immunodeficiency virus replication. Possible involvement of a dominant single epitope-specific CTL in control of viral replication has recently been indicated in preclinical AIDS vaccine trials, but it has remained unclear if multiple epitope-specific CTLs can be involved in the vaccine-based control. Here, by following up five rhesus macaques that showed vaccine-based control of primary replication of a simian immunodeficiency virus, SIVmac239, we present evidence indicating involvement of multiple epitope-specific CTL responses in this control. Three macaques maintained control for more than 2 years without additional mutations in the provirus. However, in the other two that shared a major histocompatibility complex haplotype, viral mutations were accumulated in a similar order, leading to viral evasion from three epitope-specific CTL responses with viral fitness costs. Accumulation of these multiple escape mutations resulted in the reappearance of plasma viremia around week 60 after challenge. Our results implicate multiple epitope-specific CTL responses in control of immunodeficiency virus replication and furthermore suggest that sequential accumulation of multiple CTL escape mutations, if allowed, can result in viral evasion from this control.

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