HIV control is mediated in part by CD8+ T-cell targeting of specific epitopes

Florencia Pereyra, David Heckerman, Jonathan M. Carlson, Carl Kadie, Damien Z. Soghoian, Daniel Karel, Ariel Goldenthal, Oliver B. Davis, Charles E. DeZiel, Tienho Lin, Jian Peng, Alicja Piechocka, Mary Carrington, Bruce D. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the hypothesis that the correlation between the class I HLA types of an individual and whether that individual spontaneously controls HIV-1 is mediated by the targeting of specific epitopes by CD8+ T cells. By measuring gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay responses to a panel of 257 optimally defined epitopes in 341 untreated HIV-infected persons, including persons who spontaneously control viremia, we found that the correlation between HLA types and control is mediated by the targeting of specific epitopes. Moreover, we performed a graphical model-based analysis that suggested that the targeting of specific epitopes is a cause of such control-that is, some epitopes are protective rather than merely associated with control-and identified eight epitopes that are significantly protective. In addition, we use an in silico analysis to identify protein regions where mutations are likely to affect the stability of a protein, and we found that the protective epitopes identified by the ELISPOT analysis correspond almost perfectly to such regions. This in silico analysis thus suggests a possible mechanism for control and could be used to identify protective epitopes that are not often targeted in natural infection but that may be potentially useful in a vaccine. Our analyses thus argue for the inclusion (and exclusion) of specific epitopes in an HIV vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12937-12948
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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