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J Virol. 2001 Jan;75(2):738-49.

CD8(+) lymphocytes from simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus macaques recognize 14 different epitopes bound by the major histocompatibility complex class I molecule mamu-A*01: implications for vaccine design and testing.

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Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53715, USA.


It is becoming increasingly clear that any human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine should induce a strong CD8(+) response. Additional desirable elements are multispecificity and a focus on conserved epitopes. The use of multiple conserved epitopes arranged in an artificial gene (or EpiGene) is a potential means to achieve these goals. To test this concept in a relevant disease model we sought to identify multiple simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-derived CD8(+) epitopes bound by a single nonhuman primate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule. We had previously identified the peptide binding motif of Mamu-A*01(2), a common rhesus macaque MHC class I molecule that presents the immunodominant SIV gag-derived cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope Gag_CM9 (CTPYDINQM). Herein, we scanned SIV proteins for the presence of Mamu-A*01 motifs. The binding capacity of 221 motif-positive peptides was determined using purified Mamu-A*01 molecules. Thirty-seven peptides bound with apparent K(d) values of 500 nM or lower, with 21 peptides binding better than the Gag_CM9 peptide. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from SIV-infected Mamu-A*01(+) macaques recognized 14 of these peptides in ELISPOT, CTL, or tetramer analyses. This study reveals an unprecedented complexity and diversity of anti-SIV CTL responses. Furthermore, it represents an important step toward the design of a multiepitope vaccine for SIV and HIV.

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