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J Virol. 1991 Aug;65(8):4051-6.

An HLA-C-restricted CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte clone recognizes a highly conserved epitope on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gag.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 01655.


A unique epitope on the gag protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), located at amino acid 145 to 150, has been mapped by using a CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) clone. This epitope is highly conserved among 18 HIV-1 strains. The HIV-1 gag-specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I-restricted CD8+ CTL clone was generated from fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells of an HIV-seropositive donor by stimulation with gamma-irradiated allogeneic peripheral blood mononuclear cells in the presence of an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody and recombinant interleukin-2. This gag-specific CTL clone killed autologous target cells infected with a recombinant vaccinia virus containing the gag gene of HIV-1 and target cells pulsed with an authentic p24gag construct expressed in Escherichia coli. Fine specificity was determined by using a panel of overlapping 30-amino-acid-long synthetic peptides and subsequently using smaller peptides to precisely map the CTL domain on p24. The epitope is on a highly conserved region, and it overlaps with a major B-cell epitope of gag. This CD8+ T-cell epitope is restricted by HLA-Cw3, which has not been previously identified as a restricting element for human CTL responses.

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