Gartland AJ, Li S, McNevin J, Tomaras GD, Gottardo R, Janes H, Fong Y, Morris D, Geraghty DE, Kijak GH, Edlefsen PT, Frahm N, Larsen BB, Tovanabutra S, Sanders-Buell E, deCamp AC, Magaret CA, Ahmed H, Goodridge JP, Chen L, Konopa P, Nariya S, Stoddard JN, Wong K, Zhao H, Deng W, Maust BS, Bose M, Howell S, Bates A, Lazzaro M, O'Sullivan A, Lei E, Bradfield A, Ibitamuno G, Assawadarachai V, O'Connell RJ, deSouza MS, Nitayaphan S, Rerks-Ngarm S, Robb ML, Sidney J, Sette A, Zolla-Pazner S, Montefiori D, McElrath MJ, Mullins JI, Kim JH, Gilbert PB, Hertz T (2014). Analysis of HLA A*02 association with vaccine efficacy in the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial. Journal of virology, 88(15), 8242-55. (pubmed) (doi)
The RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial demonstrated partial efficacy of 31% against HIV-1 infection. Studies into possible correlates of protection found that antibodies specific to the V1 and V2 (V1/V2) region of envelope correlated inversely with infection risk and that viruses isolated from trial participants contained genetic signatures of vaccine-induced pressure in the V1/V2 region. We explored the hypothesis that the genetic signatures in V1 and V2 could be partly attributed to selection by vaccine-primed T cells. We performed a T-cell-based sieve analysis of breakthrough viruses in the RV144 trial and found evidence of predicted HLA binding escape that was greater in vaccine versus placebo recipients. The predicted escape depended on class I HLA A02- and A11-restricted epitopes in the MN strain rgp120 vaccine immunogen. Though we hypothesized that this was indicative of postacquisition selection pressure, we also found that vaccine efficacy (VE) was greater in A02-positive (A02(+)) participants than in A02(-) participants (VE = 54% versus 3%, P = 0.05). Vaccine efficacy against viruses with a lysine residue at site 169, important to antibody binding and implicated in vaccine-induced immune pressure, was also greater in A02(+) participants (VE = 74% versus 15%, P = 0.02). Additionally, a reanalysis of vaccine-induced immune responses that focused on those that were shown to correlate with infection risk suggested that the humoral responses may have differed in A*02(+) participants. These exploratory and hypothesis-generating analyses indicate there may be an association between a class I HLA allele and vaccine efficacy, highlighting the importance of considering HLA alleles and host immune genetics in HIV vaccine trials.