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AIDS. 2007 Jan 11;21(2):135-43.

In a mixed subtype epidemic, the HIV-1 Gag-specific T-cell response is biased towards the infecting subtype.

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Mbeya Medical Research Program, Referral Hospital, Mbeya, Tanzania.



Southwest Tanzania is affected by an HIV-1 epidemic consisting of subtypes A, C, and D, and their recombinant forms. This study was designed to assess whether the Gag- and Nef-specific T-cell response is biased towards recognizing the infecting subtype.


The infecting subtypes were characterized with a Multi-hybridization assay that discriminates between subtypes A, C and D. The interferon-gamma ELISPOT assay was used to detect the Gag- and Nef-specific T-cell responses in freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in 56 seropositive patients. To study the HIV-specific T-cell responses, isolate-based Gag and Nef peptide sets representative of the locally occurring subtypes were used. The results were analysed at the total protein and single peptide level.


In the study population, 35% were infected with a pure C subtype, 24% and 23% with ACD or AC recombinant forms, respectively. The total magnitude (P < 0.01) and breadth (P < 0.01) of the Gag-specific T-cell response detected with the subtype C-Gag peptide set was significantly greater than that detected with either the subtype A-Gag or D-Gag peptide sets. No significant difference was observed in the Nef-specific response. In 85% of responses targeting the most immunodominant Gag epitopes with subtype-specific sequence differences, the best recognized epitope variant corresponded to the infecting subtype.


The Gag-specific T-cell response had a preference for recognizing peptides related to the infecting subtype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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