HLA-E–restricted HIV-1–specific CD8+ T cell responses in natural infection

Academic Article


  • CD8+ T cell responses restricted by MHC-E, a nonclassical MHC molecule, have been associated with protection in an SIV/ rhesus macaque model. The biological relevance of HLA-E–restricted CD8+ T cell responses in HIV infection, however, remains unknown. In this study, CD8+ T cells responding to HIV-1 Gag peptides presented by HLA-E were analyzed. Using in vitro assays, we observed HLA-E–restricted T cell responses to what we believe to be a newly identified subdominant Gag-KL9 as well as a well-described immunodominant Gag-KF11 epitope in T cell lines derived from chronically HIV-infected patients and also primed from healthy donors. Blocking of the HLA-E/KF11 binding by the B7 signal peptide resulted in decreased CD8+ T cell responses. KF11 presented via HLA-E in HIV-infected cells was recognized by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Importantly, bulk CD8+ T cells obtained from HIV-infected individuals recognized infected cells via HLA-E presentation. Ex vivo analyses at the epitope level showed a higher responder frequency of HLA-E–restricted responses to KF11 compared with KL9. Taken together, our findings of HLA-E–restricted HIV-specific immune responses offer intriguing and possibly paradigm-shifting insights into factors that contribute to the immunodominance of CD8+ T cell responses in HIV infection.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 14726402
  • Author List

  • Bansal A; Gehre MN; Qin K; Sterrett S; Ali A; Dang Y; Abraham S; Costanzo MC; Venegas LA; Tang J
  • Volume

  • 131
  • Issue

  • 16