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J Virol. 2012 Jul;86(14):7596-604. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00716-12. Epub 2012 May 9.

Specific CD8+ T cell responses correlate with control of simian immunodeficiency virus replication in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.


Specific major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I alleles are associated with an increased frequency of spontaneous control of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). The mechanism of control is thought to involve MHC class I-restricted CD8(+) T cells, but it is not clear whether particular CD8(+) T cell responses or a broad repertoire of epitope-specific CD8(+) T cell populations (termed T cell breadth) are principally responsible for mediating immunologic control. To test the hypothesis that heterozygous macaques control SIV replication as a function of superior T cell breadth, we infected MHC-homozygous and MHC-heterozygous cynomolgus macaques with the pathogenic virus SIVmac239. As measured by a gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay (IFN-γ ELISPOT) using blood, T cell breadth did not differ significantly between homozygotes and heterozygotes. Surprisingly, macaques that controlled SIV replication, regardless of their MHC zygosity, shared durable T cell responses against similar regions of Nef. While the limited genetic variability in these animals prevents us from making generalizations about the importance of Nef-specific T cell responses in controlling HIV, these results suggest that the T cell-mediated control of virus replication that we observed is more likely the consequence of targeting specificity rather than T cell breadth.

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