Triple bypass: complicated paths to HIV escape.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 is highly efficient at evading immune responses and persisting, ultimately causing fatal immunodeficiency in some patients. Mutation in the epitopes recognized by cytolytic CD8+ T cells (CTLs) is one such escape process. A new study now shows that one HIV-1 escape mutation may also result in impaired dendritic cell (DC) activity, possibly impairing later T cell responses to the same and other epitopes. The new data complete our understanding of the mechanisms by which the CTL response to an immunodominant gag epitope presented by human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B27 is evaded. The complexity of the full escape helps to explain why patients with this HLA type progress to AIDS more slowly than average.