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J Virol. 2008 Nov;82(22):10986-97. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01124-08. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Host ethnicity and virus genotype shape the hepatitis B virus-specific T-cell repertoire.

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Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR, Brenner Centre for Molecular Medicine, 30 Medical Drive, Singapore.


Repertoire composition, quantity, and qualitative functional ability are the parameters that define virus-specific T-cell responses and are linked with their potential to control infection. We took advantage of the segregation of different hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes in geographically and genetically distinct host populations to directly analyze the impact that host and virus variables exert on these virus-specific T-cell parameters. T-cell responses against the entire HBV proteome were analyzed in a total of 109 HBV-infected subjects of distinct ethnicities (47 of Chinese origin and 62 of Caucasian origin). We demonstrate that HBV-specific T-cell quantity is determined by the virological and clinical profiles of the patients, which outweigh any influence of race or viral diversity. In contrast, HBV-specific T-cell repertoires are divergent in the two ethnic groups, with T-cell epitopes frequently found in Caucasian patients seldom detected in Chinese patients. In conclusion, we provide a direct biological evaluation of the impact that host and virus variables exert on virus-specific T-cell responses. The discordance between HBV-specific CD8 T-cell repertoires present in Caucasian and Chinese subjects shows the ability of HLA micropolymorphisms to diversify T-cell responses and has implications for the rational development of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines for worldwide use.

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