Coordinate linkage of HIV evolution reveals regions of immunological vulnerability.
ABSTRACT: Cellular immune control of HIV is mediated, in part, by induction of single amino acid mutations that reduce viral fitness, but compensatory mutations limit this effect. Here, we sought to determine if higher order constraints on viral evolution exist, because some coordinately linked combinations of mutations may hurt viability. Immune targeting of multiple sites in such a multidimensionally conserved region might render the virus particularly vulnerable, because viable escape pathways would be greatly restricted. We analyzed available HIV sequences using a method from physics to reveal distinct groups of amino acids whose mutations are collectively coordinated ("HIV sectors"). From the standpoint of mutations at individual sites, one such group in Gag is as conserved as other collectively coevolving groups of sites in Gag. However, it exhibits higher order conservation indicating constraints on the viability of viral strains with multiple mutations. Mapping amino acids from this group onto protein structures shows that combined mutations likely destabilize multiprotein structural interactions critical for viral function. Persons who durably control HIV without medications preferentially target the sector in Gag predicted to be most vulnerable. By sequencing circulating viruses from these individuals, we find that individual mutations occur with similar frequency in this sector as in other targeted Gag sectors. However, multiple mutations within this sector are very rare, indicating previously unrecognized multidimensional constraints on HIV evolution. Targeting such regions with higher order evolutionary constraints provides a novel approach to immunogen design for a vaccine against HIV and other rapidly mutating viruses.
Project description:It has been hypothesized that a single mutation at a highly conserved amino acid site (HCS) can be severely deleterious to HIV in most if not all isolate-specific genetic backgrounds. Consequently, potentially universal HIV-1 vaccines exclusively targeting highly conserved regions of the viral proteome have been proposed. To test this hypothesis, we examined the impact of 10 Gag-p24 and 9 Env-gp120 HCS single mutations on viral fitness. In the original founder sequence of the subject in whom these mutations were identified, all Gag-p24 HCS mutations significantly reduced viral replication fitness, including 7 that were lethal. Similar results were obtained at 9/10 sites when the same mutations were introduced into the founder sequences of two epidemiologically unlinked subjects. In contrast, none of the 9 Env-gp120 HCS mutations were lethal in the original founder sequence, and four had no fitness cost. Hence, HCS mutations in Gag-p24 are likely to be severely deleterious in different HIV-1 subtype B backgrounds; however, some HCS mutations in both Gag-p24 and Env-gp120 fragments can be well tolerated. Therefore, when designing HIV-1 immunogens that are intended to force the virus to nonviable escape pathways, the fitness constraints on the HIV segments included should be considered beyond their conservation level.
Project description:UNLABELLED:To understand the interplay between host cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses and the mechanisms by which HIV-1 evades them, we studied viral evolutionary patterns associated with host CTL responses in six linked transmission pairs. HIV-1 sequences corresponding to full-length p17 and p24 gag were generated by 454 pyrosequencing for all pairs near the time of transmission, and seroconverting partners were followed for a median of 847 days postinfection. T-cell responses were screened by gamma interferon/interleukin-2 (IFN-?/IL-2) FluoroSpot using autologous peptide sets reflecting any Gag variant present in at least 5% of sequence reads in the individual's viral population. While we found little evidence for the occurrence of CTL reversions, CTL escape processes were found to be highly dynamic, with multiple epitope variants emerging simultaneously. We found a correlation between epitope entropy and the number of epitope variants per response (r = 0.43; P = 0.05). In cases in which multiple escape mutations developed within a targeted epitope, a variant with no fitness cost became fixed in the viral population. When multiple mutations within an epitope achieved fitness-balanced escape, these escape mutants were each maintained in the viral population. Additional mutations found to confer escape but undetected in viral populations incurred high fitness costs, suggesting that functional constraints limit the available sites tolerable to escape mutations. These results further our understanding of the impact of CTL escape and reversion from the founder virus in HIV infection and contribute to the identification of immunogenic Gag regions most vulnerable to a targeted T-cell attack. IMPORTANCE:Rapid diversification of the viral population is a hallmark of HIV-1 infection, and understanding the selective forces driving the emergence of viral variants can provide critical insight into the interplay between host immune responses and viral evolution. We used deep sequencing to comprehensively follow viral evolution over time in six linked HIV transmission pairs. We then mapped T-cell responses to explore if mutations arose due to adaption to the host and found that escape processes were often highly dynamic, with multiple mutations arising within targeted epitopes. When we explored the impact of these mutations on replicative capacity, we found that dynamic escape processes only resolve with the selection of mutations that conferred escape with no fitness cost to the virus. These results provide further understanding of the complicated viral-host interactions that occur during early HIV-1 infection and may help inform the design of future vaccine immunogens.
Project description:Elite controllers or suppressors (ES) are HIV-1 infected patients who maintain viral loads of < 50 copies/ml without antiretroviral therapy. CD8+ T cells are thought to play a key role in the control of viral replication and exert selective pressure on gag and nef in HLA-B*57 positive ES. We previously showed evolution in the gag gene of ES which surprisingly was mostly due to synonymous mutations rather than non-synonymous mutation in targeted CTL epitopes. This finding could be the result of structural constraints on Gag, and we therefore examined the less conserved nef gene. We found slow evolution of nef in plasma virus in some ES. This evolution is mostly due to synonymous mutations and occurs at a rate similar to that seen in the gag gene in the same patients. The results provide further evidence of ongoing viral replication in ES and suggest that the nef and gag genes in these patients respond similarly to selective pressure from the host.
Project description:The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) structural protein Gag is necessary and sufficient to form viral particles. In addition to encoding the amino acid sequence for Gag, the underlying RNA sequence could encode cis-acting elements or nucleotide biases that are necessary for viral replication. Furthermore, RNA sequences that inhibit viral replication could be suppressed in gag. However, the functional relevance of RNA elements and nucleotide biases that promote or repress HIV-1 replication remain poorly understood.To characterize if the RNA sequence in gag controls HIV-1 replication, the matrix (MA) region was codon modified, allowing the RNA sequence to be altered without affecting the protein sequence. Codon modification of nucleotides (nt) 22-261 or 22-378 in gag inhibited viral replication by decreasing genomic RNA (gRNA) abundance, gRNA stability, Gag expression, virion production and infectivity. Comparing the effect of these point mutations to deletions of the same region revealed that the mutations inhibited infectious virus production while the deletions did not. This demonstrated that codon modification introduced inhibitory sequences. There is a much lower than expected frequency of CpG dinucleotides in HIV-1 and codon modification introduced a substantial increase in CpG abundance. To determine if they are necessary for inhibition of HIV-1 replication, codons introducing CpG dinucleotides were mutated back to the wild type codon, which restored efficient Gag expression and infectious virion production. To determine if they are sufficient to inhibit viral replication, CpG dinucleotides were inserted into gag in the absence of other changes. The increased CpG dinucleotide content decreased HIV-1 infectivity and viral replication.The HIV-1 RNA sequence contains low abundance of CpG dinucleotides. Increasing the abundance of CpG dinucleotides inhibits multiple steps of the viral life cycle, providing a functional explanation for why CpG dinucleotides are suppressed in HIV-1.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) immune response is one of the major factors determining the genetic diversity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There are few population-based analyses of the amino acid variations associated with the host HLA type and their clinical relevance for the Asian population. Here, we identified HLA-associated polymorphisms in the HIV-1 CRF01_AE Gag protein in infected married couples, and examined the consequences of these HLA-selected mutations after transmission to HLA-unmatched recipients. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: One hundred sixteen HIV-1-infected couples were recruited at a government hospital in northern Thailand. The 1.7-kb gag gene was amplified and directly sequenced. We identified 56 associations between amino acid variations in Gag and HLA alleles. Of those amino acid variations, 35 (62.5%) were located within or adjacent to regions reported to be HIV-specific CTL epitopes restricted by the relevant HLA. Interestingly, a significant number of HLA-associated amino acid variations appear to be unique to the CRF01_AE-infected Thai population. Variations in the capsid protein (p24) had the strongest associations with the viral load and CD4 cell count. The mutation and reversion rates after transmission to a host with a different HLA environment varied considerably. The p24 T242N variant escape from B57/58 CTL had a significant impact on the HIV-1 viral load of CRF01_AE-infected patients. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: HLA-associated amino acid mutations and the CTL selection pressures on the p24 antigen appear to have the most significant impact on HIV replication in a CRF01_AE-infected Asian population. HLA-associated mutations with a low reversion rate accumulated as a footprint in this Thai population. The novel HLA-associated mutations identified in this study encourage us to acquire more extensive information about the viral dynamics of HLA-associated amino acid polymorphisms in a given population as effective CTL vaccine targets.
Project description:Mature enzymes encoded within the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genome (protease (PR), reverse transcriptase (RT) and integrase (IN)) derive from proteolytic processing of a large polyprotein (Gag-Pol). Gag-Pol processing is catalyzed by the viral PR, which is active as a homodimer. The HIV-1 RT functions as a heterodimer (p66/p51) composed of subunits of 560 and 440 amino acid residues, respectively. Both subunits have identical amino acid sequence, but p51 lacks 120 residues that are removed by the HIV-1 PR during viral maturation. While p66 is the catalytic subunit, p51 has a primarily structural role. Amino acid substitutions affecting the stability of p66/p51 (i.e. F130W) have a deleterious effect on viral fitness. Previously, we showed that the effects of F130W are mediated by p51 and can be compensated by mutation T58S. While studying the dynamics of emergence of the compensatory mutation, we observed that mutations in the viral PR-coding region were selected in HIV clones containing the RT substitution F130W, before the imposition of T58S/F130W mutations. The PR mutations identified (G94S and T96S) improved the replication capacity of the F130W mutant virus. By using a trans-complementation assay, we demonstrate that the loss of p66/p51 heterodimer stability caused by Trp130 can be attributed to an increased susceptibility of RT to viral PR degradation. Recombinant HIV-1 PRs bearing mutations G94S or T96S showed decreased dimer stability and reduced catalytic efficiency. These results were consistent with crystallographic data showing the location of both residues in the PR dimerization interface.
Project description:Initial studies of 88 transmission pairs in the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project cohort demonstrated that the number of transmitted HLA-B associated polymorphisms in Gag, but not Nef, was negatively correlated to set point viral load (VL) in the newly infected partners. These results suggested that accumulation of CTL escape mutations in Gag might attenuate viral replication and provide a clinical benefit during early stages of infection. Using a novel approach, we have cloned gag sequences isolated from the earliest seroconversion plasma sample from the acutely infected recipient of 149 epidemiologically linked Zambian transmission pairs into a primary isolate, subtype C proviral vector, MJ4. We determined the replicative capacity (RC) of these Gag-MJ4 chimeras by infecting the GXR25 cell line and quantifying virion production in supernatants via a radiolabeled reverse transcriptase assay. We observed a statistically significant positive correlation between RC conferred by the transmitted Gag sequence and set point VL in newly infected individuals (p = 0.02). Furthermore, the RC of Gag-MJ4 chimeras also correlated with the VL of chronically infected donors near the estimated date of infection (p = 0.01), demonstrating that virus replication contributes to VL in both acute and chronic infection. These studies also allowed for the elucidation of novel sites in Gag associated with changes in RC, where rare mutations had the greatest effect on fitness. Although we observed both advantageous and deleterious rare mutations, the latter could point to vulnerable targets in the HIV-1 genome. Importantly, RC correlated significantly (p = 0.029) with the rate of CD4+ T cell decline over the first 3 years of infection in a manner that is partially independent of VL, suggesting that the replication capacity of HIV-1 during the earliest stages of infection is a determinant of pathogenesis beyond what might be expected based on set point VL alone.
Project description:In a study of 114 epidemiologically linked Zambian transmission pairs, we evaluated the impact of human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA-I)-associated amino acid polymorphisms, presumed to reflect cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) escape in Gag and Nef of the virus transmitted from the chronically infected donor, on the plasma viral load (VL) in matched recipients 6 mo after infection. CTL escape mutations in Gag and Nef were seen in the donors, which were subsequently transmitted to recipients, largely unchanged soon after infection. We observed a significant correlation between the number of Gag escape mutations targeted by specific HLA-B allele-restricted CTLs and reduced VLs in the recipients. This negative correlation was most evident in newly infected individuals, whose HLA alleles were unable to effectively target Gag and select for CTL escape mutations in this gene. Nef mutations in the donor had no impact on VL in the recipient. Thus, broad Gag-specific CTL responses capable of driving virus escape in the donor may be of clinical benefit to both the donor and recipient. In addition to their direct implications for HIV-1 vaccine design, these data suggest that CTL-induced viral polymorphisms and their associated in vivo viral fitness costs could have a significant impact on HIV-1 pathogenesis.
Project description:CD8+ T cells play a major role in the containment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication. CD8+ T cell-driven variations in conserved regions under functional constraints result in diminished viral replicative capacity. While compensatory mutations outside an epitope can restore replicative capacity, the kinetics with which they arise remains unknown. Additionally, certain patterns of linked mutations associated with CD8+ T cell epitope escape in these highly conserved regions may lead to variable levels of viral fitness. Here, we used pyrosequencing to investigate the kinetics and patterns of mutations surrounding the Mamu-A1*00101-bound Gag(181-189)CM9 CD8+ T cell epitope. We obtained more than 400 reads for each sequencing time point, allowing us to confidently detect the emergence of viral variants bearing escape mutations with frequencies as low as 1% of the circulating virus. With this level of detail, we demonstrate that compensatory mutations generally arise concomitantly with Gag(181-189)CM9 escape mutations. We observed distinct patterns of linked flanking mutations, most of which were found downstream of Gag(181-189)CM9. Our data indicate that, whereas Gag(181-189)CM9 escape is much more complex that previously appreciated, it occurs in a coordinated fashion, with very specific patterns of flanking mutations required for immune evasion. This is the first detailed report of the ontogeny of compensatory mutations that allow CD8+ T cell epitope escape in infected individuals.
Project description:Normally, HIV-1 enters into CD4+ cells through membrane fusion, and newly synthesized HIV-1 viral proteins assemble on the plasma membrane to form viral particles and bud out. In the previous study, we found host factor coiled-coil domain containing protein 8 (CCDC8) can strongly inhibit HIV-1 production, but the underline mechanism is not clear. Here we show that overexpression of CCDC8 reverses the normal HIV-1 production process, and causes newly assembled HIV-1 Gag particles to be endocytosed on the plasma membrane, rather than budding out. Live-cell imaging system captured the moment of CCDC8-mediated Gag internalization on the plasma membrane, and the speed of Gag turnover is up to 1.53 ?m/s, much faster than Gag assembly on the plasma membrane. After Gag internalization, it accumulates in the cellular organelle-lysosome for degradation, but not proteasome, autophagosome, endoplasmic reticulum, clathrin or recycling endosome. In addition, CCDC8 is a membrane-associated protein, and N-terminal of CCDC8 is very important for membrane binding, and also important for inhibition of Gag assembly. C-terminal deletion of CCDC8 has a little effect on anti-HIV-1 effect. Moreover, CCDC8 is phosphorylated at amino acid threonine T87 and serine S261, and mono-methylated at lysine K491. Alanine mutations of T87A, S261A and K491A singly or in combination do not affect CCDC8 anti-HIV activity. In conclusion, overexpression of CCDC8 can cause newly assembled HIV-1 Gag particles on the plasma membrane to be endocytosed and degraded in lysosome.