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Abacavir hypersensitivity syndrome can occur in individuals expressing the HLA-B*57:01 major histocompatibility complex class I allotype when utilising the drug abacavir as a part of their anti-retroviral regimen. The drug is known to bind within the HLA-B*57:01 antigen binding cleft, leading to the selection of novel self-peptide ligands, thus provoking life-threatening immune responses. However, the sub-cellular location of abacavir binding and the mechanics of altered peptide selection are not well understood. Here, we probed the impact of abacavir on the assembly of HLA-B*57:01 peptide complexes. We show that whilst abacavir had minimal impact on the maturation or average stability of HLA-B*57:01 molecules, abacavir was able to differentially enhance the formation, selectively decrease the dissociation, and alter tapasin loading dependency of certain HLA-B*57:01-peptide complexes. Our data reveals a spectrum of abacavir mediated effects on the immunopeptidome which reconciles the heterogeneous functional T cell data reported in the literature.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in immunology

Publication Date





Infection and Immunity Program, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.


T-Lymphocytes, Cell Line, Humans, Drug Hypersensitivity, Dideoxynucleosides, HLA-B Antigens, Anti-HIV Agents, Lymphocyte Activation, Kinetics