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Med Microbiol Immunol. 2012 May;201(2):201-11. doi: 10.1007/s00430-011-0222-1. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Control of M184V HIV-1 mutants by CD8 T-cell responses.

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Medizinische Poliklinik, LMU, 80336, Munich, Germany.


Antiretroviral treatment directed against HIV is highly effective, yet limited by drug resistance mutations. We hypothesized that CD8 T cells targeting drug-resistant HIV mutants are able to inhibit viral replication in the setting of a failing therapeutic regimen. We evaluated CD8 T-cell responses and mapped epitopes in HIV-infected patients by interferon-gamma Elispot and intracellular cytokine staining. Autologous virus was sequenced by RT-PCR. Viral replication inhibition assays were performed using M184V mutant virus and CD8 T cell lines. CD8 T-cell responses toward the regions of viral drug resistance mutations in Pol are frequent. Focusing on the M184V mutation, A*02:01-YQYVDDLYV and A*02:01-VIYQYVDDLYV were identified as optimal epitopes for the majority of study subjects. Viral replication of M184V HIV mutants was inhibited by CD8 T cell lines in vitro. In case of a failing lamivudine/emtricitabine containing regimen, individuals with a CD8 T-cell response toward M184V had a significant lower viral load than those without a CD8 response (p = 0.005). Two study subjects even achieved an undetectable viral load. Our data suggest that control of M184V mutant virus by CD8 T-cell responses is possible in vitro and in vivo. This control has important implications for therapeutic vaccination strategies.

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