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Nat Immunol. 2005 Mar;6(3):247-52. Epub 2005 Jan 30.

Dynamic immune responses maintain cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitope mutations in transmitted simian immunodeficiency virus variants.

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Division of Viral Pathogenesis, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA. <>


Viral escape from cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) can undermine immune control of human immunodeficiency virus 1. It is therefore important to assess the stability of viral mutations in CTL epitopes after transmission to naive hosts. Here we demonstrate the persistence of mutations in a dominant CTL epitope after transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus variants to major histocompatibility complex-matched rhesus monkeys. Transient reversions to wild-type sequences occurred and elicited CTLs specific for the wild-type epitope, resulting in immunological pressure that rapidly reselected the mutant viruses. These data suggest that mutations in dominant human immunodeficiency virus 1 CTL epitopes may accumulate in human populations with limited major histocompatibility complex heterogeneity by a mechanism involving dynamic CTL control of transiently reverted wild-type virus.

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