Disease progression despite protective HLA expression in an HIV-infected transmission pair
Brener J., Gall A., Batorsky R., Riddell L., Buus S., Leitman E., Kellam P., Allen T., Goulder P., Matthews PC.
© 2015 Brener et al.Background: The precise immune responses mediated by HLA class I molecules such as HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01 that protect against HIV disease progression remain unclear. We studied a CRF01_AE clade HIV infected donor-recipient transmission pair in which the recipient expressed both HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01. Results: Within 4.5 years of diagnosis, the recipient had progressed to meet criteria for antiretroviral therapy initiation. We employed ultra-deep sequencing of the full-length virus genome in both donor and recipient as an unbiased approach by which to identify specific viral mutations selected in association with progression. Using a heat map method to highlight differences in the viral sequences between donor and recipient, we demonstrated that the majority of the recipient's mutations outside of Env were within epitopes restricted by HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01, including the well-studied Gag epitopes. The donor, who also expressed HLA alleles associated with disease protection, HLA-A*32:01/B*13:02/B*14:01, showed selection of mutations in parallel with disease progression within epitopes restricted by these protective alleles. Conclusions: These studies of full-length viral sequences in a transmission pair, both of whom expressed protective HLA alleles but nevertheless failed to control viremia, are consistent with previous reports pointing to the critical role of Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses restricted by protective HLA molecules in maintaining immune control of HIV infection. The transmission of subtype CRF01_AE clade infection may have contributed to accelerated disease progression in this pair as a result of clade-specific sequence differences in immunodominant epitopes.