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Title: HLA-B51 associated HIV-1 viral control
Author: Peng, Yanchun
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Polymorphism in the Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) region of chromosome is the major source of host genetic variability in outcome of HIV-1 infection. However, 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 (SM 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 in order to understand HLA-B51 associated HIV-1 control. We first focused on the T cell responses against three dominant HLA-B51 restricted epitopes: GagNI9 (NANPDCKTI), Pol TV8 (TAFTIPSV) and Pol LI9 (LPPVVAKEI), and HLA-B51 associated escape mutations in these three epitopes. A sequential selection of epitope mutations (i.e., epitope Pol LI9, Pol TV8 and Gag NI9) was observed. Good control of viral load and higher CD4+ counts were significantly associated with at least one detectable T cell response to un-mutated epitopes. HLA-B51 restricted CD8+ T-cell clones, generated from the patients, could effectively inhibit HIV-1 replication when wild type epitopes are properly processed and presented. We then assessed the evolution of escape mutations under the selecting pressure of HLA-B51 CTLs in vitro by co-culturing HLA-B51 CTL clones with HIV-1 infected target cells (Virus Evolution Assay). Our data showed that three dominant HLA-B51 restricted CTL responses have driven the sequential escape mutations within the epitopes, leading to the loss of viral control, which confirmed our in vivo findings. Furthermore, applying Virus Evolution Assay, we assessed the impact of antigen sensitivity and TCR usage as well as founder virus effect on HIV-1 evolution and control. Our data suggested that antigen sensitivity plays an important role in anti-viral efficacy of CTLs; the TCR usage of CTLs has stronger effect on virus evolution. More importantly, our study highlighted the major impact of the founder virus sequence on viral control. It has been shown that HIV-1 has adapted to the T-cell responses to epitope Pol TI8 in other HLA-B51+ patient cohorts. However, in our cohort, T-cell responses targeting this epitope, with Valine at position 8 (Pol TV8), provide the hosts with a long-term protection against HIV-1 infection, because of a fine balance of efficient viral control, lower level of immune pressure and the slower rate of development of escape mutations. In addition, we assessed the ex vivo phenotypic characteristics of HLA-B51 restricted dominant T cell responses and our preliminary data indicated that the early differentiated and less senescence phenotype of CD8+ T cell responses in HIV-1 chronic infection is likely to be a result of low viral antigen exposure due to T cell driven escape. In conclusion, immune-dominant T-cell responses targeting three HLA-B51 restricted epitopes (Pol LI9, Pol TV8 and Gag NI9) could be advantageous for the host. In particular, the responses against epitope Gag NI9 with slow development of escape mutations or epitope Pol TV8 with a fine balance of moderate immune pressure and delayed escape mutations, are beneficial for long-term control of HIV-1 infection.
Supervisor: Dong, Tao; Rowland-Jones, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical sciences ; Immunology ; Infectious diseases ; T cell responses ; control of HIV-1 infection ; T cell driven HIV-1 escape mutations ; Virus Evolution Assay ; SM Cohort