Multilayered Defense in HLA-B51–Associated HIV Viral Control
Zhang Y., Peng Y., Yan H., Xu K., Saito M., Wu H., Chen X., Ranasinghe S., Kuse N., Powell T., Zhao Y., Li W., Zhang X., Feng X., Li N., Leligdowicz A., Xu X., John M., Takiguchi M., McMichael A., Rowland-Jones S., Dong T.
Abstract Polymorphism in the HLA region of a chromosome is the major source of host genetic variability in HIV-1 outcome, but there is limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effect of protective class I alleles such as HLA-B57, -B27, and -B51. Taking advantage of a unique cohort infected with clade B’ HIV-1 through contaminated blood, in which many variables such as the length of infection, the infecting viral strain, and host genetic background are controlled, we performed a comprehensive study to understand HLA-B51–associated HIV-1 control. We focused on the T cell responses against three dominant HLA-B51–restricted epitopes: Gag327-345(NI9) NANPDCKTI, Pol743-751(LI9) LPPVVAKEI, and Pol283-289(TI8) TAFTIPSI. Mutations in all three dominant epitopes were significantly associated with HLA-B51 in the cohort. A clear hierarchy in selection of epitope mutations was observed through epitope sequencing. L743I in position 1 of epitope LI9 was seen in most B51+ individuals, followed by V289X in position 8 of the TI8, and then, A328S, in position 2 of the NI9 epitope, was also seen in some B51+ individuals. Good control of viral load and higher CD4+ counts were significantly associated with at least one detectable T cell response to unmutated epitopes, whereas lower CD4+ counts and higher viral loads were observed in patients who had developed escape mutations in all three epitopes or who lacked T cell responses specific to these epitope(s). We propose that patients with HLA-B51 benefit from having multiple layers of effective defense against the development of immune escape mutations.