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Identification of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtype C Gag-, Tat-, Rev-, and Nef-specific elispot-based cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses for AIDS vaccine design.

ABSTRACT: The most severe human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) epidemic is occurring in southern Africa. It is caused by HIV-1 subtype C (HIV-1C). In this study we present the identification and analysis of cumulative cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses in the southern African country of Botswana. CTLs were shown to be an important component of the immune response to control HIV-1 infection. The definition of optimal and dominant epitopes across the HIV-1C genome that are targeted by CTL is critical for vaccine design. The characteristics of the predominant virus that causes the HIV-1 epidemic in a certain geographic area and also the genetic background of the population, through the distribution of common HLA class I alleles, might impact dominant CTL responses in the vaccinee and in the general population. The enzyme-linked immunospot (Elispot) gamma interferon assay has recently been shown to be a reliable tool to map optimal CTL epitopes, correlating well with other methods, such as intracellular staining, tetramer staining, and the classical chromium release assay. Using Elispot with overlapping synthetic peptides across Gag, Tat, Rev, and Nef, we analyzed HIV-1C-specific CTL responses of HIV-1-infected blood donors. Profiles of cumulative Elispot-based CTL responses combined with diversity and sequence consensus data provide an additional characterization of immunodominant regions across the HIV-1C genome. Results of the study suggest that the construction of a poly-epitope subtype-specific HIV-1 vaccine that includes multiple copies of immunodominant CTL epitopes across the viral genome, derived from predominant HIV-1 viruses, might be a logical approach to the design of a vaccine against AIDS.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC114489 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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