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Nat Med. 2007 Jan;13(1):100-6. Epub 2006 Dec 24.

Polyvalent vaccines for optimal coverage of potential T-cell epitopes in global HIV-1 variants.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.


HIV-1/AIDS vaccines must address the extreme diversity of HIV-1. We have designed new polyvalent vaccine antigens comprised of sets of 'mosaic' proteins, assembled from fragments of natural sequences via a computational optimization method. Mosaic proteins resemble natural proteins, and a mosaic set maximizes the coverage of potential T-cell epitopes (peptides of nine amino acids) for a viral population. We found that coverage of viral diversity using mosaics was greatly increased compared to coverage by natural-sequence vaccine candidates, for both variable and conserved proteins; for conserved HIV-1 proteins, global coverage may be feasible. For example, four mosaic proteins perfectly matched 74% of 9-amino-acid potential epitopes in global Gag sequences; 87% of potential epitopes matched at least 8 of 9 positions. In contrast, a single natural Gag protein covered only 37% (9 of 9) and 67% (8 of 9). Mosaics provide diversity coverage comparable to that afforded by thousands of separate peptides, but, because the fragments of natural proteins are compressed into a small number of native-like proteins, they are tractable for vaccines.

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