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J Infect Dis. 1991 Dec;164(6):1058-65.

Human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase T helper epitopes identified in mice and humans: correlation with a cytotoxic T cell epitope.

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  • 1Molecular Immunogenetics and Vaccine Research Section, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


T cell immunity may be critical to development of a vaccine for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). T helper epitopes were identified in three predominantly conserved regions in the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase by using reverse transcriptase-immunized mice of five major histocompatibility complex haplotypes. One peptide (residues 38-52) that stimulated H-2k T cells also contained an epitope recognized by cytotoxic T cells from the same mice and from HIV-infected patients. Such concordance between helper and cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes, observed in four cases, may be important in vaccine development. Peptide 36-52 was recognized by interleukin-2-producing peripheral blood T cells from 9 of 17 HIV-seropositive humans studied, of multiple human leukocyte antigen-DR and -DQ types. The broad recognition of this peptide by both helper and cytotoxic T cells substantiates its potential importance in a vaccine.

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