Yu XG, Addo MM, Perkins BA, Wej F, Rathod A, Geer SC, Parta M, Cohen D, Stone DR, Russell CJ, Tanzi G, Mei S, Wurcel AG, Frahm N, Lichterfeld M, Heath L, Mullins JI, Marincola F, Goulder PJ, Brander C, Allen T, Cao Y, Walker BD, Altfeld M (2004). Differences in the expressed HLA class I alleles effect the differential clustering of HIV type 1-specific T cell responses in infected Chinese and caucasians. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 20(5), 557-64. (pubmed)
China is a region of the world with a rapidly spreading HIV-1 epidemic. Studies providing insights into HIV-1 pathogenesis in infected Chinese are urgently needed to support the design and testing of an effective HIV-1 vaccine for this population. HIV-1-specific T cell responses were characterized in 32 HIV-1-infected individuals of Chinese origin and compared to 34 infected caucasians using 410 overlapping peptides spanning the entire HIV-1 clade B consensus sequence in an IFN-gamma ELISpot assay. All HIV-1 proteins were targeted with similar frequency in both populations and all study subjects recognized at least one overlapping peptide. HIV-1-specific T cell responses clustered in seven different regions of the HIV-1 genome in the Chinese cohort and in nine different regions in the caucasian cohort. The dominant HLA class I alleles expressed in the two populations differed significantly, and differences in epitope clustering pattern were shown to be influenced by differences in class I alleles that restrict immunodominant epitopes. These studies demonstrate that the clustering of HIV-1-specific T cell responses is influenced by the genetic HLA class I background in the study populations. The design and testing of candidate vaccines to fight the rapidly growing HIV-1 epidemic must therefore take the HLA genetics of the population into account as specific regions of the virus can be expected to be differentially targeted in ethnically diverse populations.