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Virology. 2000 Dec 20;278(2):551-61.

Temporal loss of Nef-epitope CTL recognition following macaque lipopeptide immunization and SIV challenge.

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Laboratoire d'Immunologie des Pathologies Infectieuses et Tumorales, Institut Cochin de Génétique Moléculaire (ICGM), INSERM U445, 27 rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques, Paris, 75014, France.


To address the subtle interactions between antiviral cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) immune responses and the evolution of viral quasispecies variants in vivo, we performed a longitudinal study in a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaque that had a long experimental SIV infection before developing simian AIDS. Before being infected with SIV, this animal was immunized with a mixture of seven lipopeptides derived from SIV Nef and Gag proteins and showed a bispecific antiviral CTL response directed toward Nef 169-178 and 211-225 peptides. After SIV infection, CTL activity against the Nef 169-178 epitope was no longer detectable, as assessed from peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated by autologous SIV. CTL activity against the 211-225 epitope was lost after 3 months, and an additional CTL response to the amino acids 112-119 Nef epitope emerged. Analysis of the Nef proviral sequence revealed the presence of immune escape variants first in the 211-225 epitope and much later in the 112-119 epitope. In contrast, epitope 169-178 showed only two mutations among all viral sequencing performed. We conclude that in this macaque, bispecific CTL exerted a strong selective pressure and escape virus mutants finally emerged. We identified CTL recognizing a conserved Nef epitope 112-119 (SYKLAIDM), essential for viral replication, which could be associated with a prolonged AIDS-free period. These results stress the importance of the induction of broader multispecific CTLs directed against highly conserved and functional T-cell epitopes by vaccination, with the aim of keeping HIV infection in check.

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