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J Virol. 2015 Nov;89(21):10802-20. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01440-15. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Vaccine-Induced Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Specific CD8+ T-Cell Responses Focused on a Single Nef Epitope Select for Escape Variants Shortly after Infection.

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Department of Pathology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA.
Laboratório de Biologia Molecular de Flavivirus, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz-FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Section on Statistical Genetics, Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., Frederick National Laboratory, Frederick, Maryland, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Instituto de Tecnologia em Imunobiológicos, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Certain major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) alleles (e.g., HLA-B*27) are enriched among human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals who suppress viremia without treatment (termed "elite controllers" [ECs]). Likewise, Mamu-B*08 expression also predisposes rhesus macaques to control simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication. Given the similarities between Mamu-B*08 and HLA-B*27, SIV-infected Mamu-B*08(+) animals provide a model to investigate HLA-B*27-mediated elite control. We have recently shown that vaccination with three immunodominant Mamu-B*08-restricted epitopes (Vif RL8, Vif RL9, and Nef RL10) increased the incidence of elite control in Mamu-B*08(+) macaques after challenge with the pathogenic SIVmac239 clone. Furthermore, a correlate analysis revealed that CD8(+) T cells targeting Nef RL10 was correlated with improved outcome. Interestingly, this epitope is conserved between SIV and HIV-1 and exhibits a delayed and atypical escape pattern. These features led us to postulate that a monotypic vaccine-induced Nef RL10-specific CD8(+) T-cell response would facilitate the development of elite control in Mamu-B*08(+) animals following repeated intrarectal challenges with SIVmac239. To test this, we vaccinated Mamu-B*08(+) animals with nef inserts in which Nef RL10 was either left intact (group 1) or disrupted by mutations (group 2). Although monkeys in both groups mounted Nef-specific cellular responses, only those in group 1 developed Nef RL10-specific CD8(+) T cells. These vaccine-induced effector memory CD8(+) T cells did not prevent infection. Escape variants emerged rapidly in the group 1 vaccinees, and ultimately, the numbers of ECs were similar in groups 1 and 2. High-frequency vaccine-induced CD8(+) T cells focused on a single conserved epitope and therefore did not prevent infection or increase the incidence of elite control in Mamu-B*08(+) macaques.


Since elite control of chronic-phase viremia is a classic example of an effective immune response against HIV/SIV, elucidating the basis of this phenomenon may provide useful insights into how to elicit such responses by vaccination. We have previously established that vaccine-induced CD8(+) T-cell responses against three immunodominant epitopes can increase the incidence of elite control in SIV-infected Mamu-B*08(+) rhesus macaques—a model of HLA-B*27-mediated elite control. Here, we investigated whether a monotypic vaccine-induced CD8(+) T-cell response targeting the conserved "late-escaping" Nef RL10 epitope can increase the incidence of elite control in Mamu-B*08(+) monkeys. Surprisingly, vaccine-induced Nef RL10-specific CD8(+) T cells selected for variants within days after infection and, ultimately, did not facilitate the development of elite control. Elite control is, therefore, likely to involve CD8(+) T-cell responses against more than one epitope. Together, these results underscore the complexity and multidimensional nature of virologic control of lentivirus infection.

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