T Cell Responses in HIV Type 1-Infected Adolescent Minorities Share Similar Epitope Specificities with Whites Despite Significant Differences in HLA Class I Alleles

Academic Article


  • African-Americans (AFAM) and Hispanics (HIS) represent only 13% and 12% of the U.S. population but 54% and 19%, respectively, of annually incident HIV-1 infections in the United States. The 88 patients in the current study were from U.S. racial or ethnic minority groups (72% African-American, 17% Hispanic), female (85%), and adolescent (mean age 20 years). Their HLA allele distributions were distinct from patterns in U.S. whites. Overall, HIV-1-specific T cell responses were observed in 91% of participants: 75% recognized peptides in Gag, 67% Pol, 57% Nef, and 41% Env. The patients recognized 87 (36%) of 244 Gag, Pol, Env, or Nef peptides tested. Similar to what has been seen in white cohorts, epitope-rich peptide clusters were identified within conserved functional domains in Gag matrix, Gag capsid, Pol reverse transcriptase, and Nef. Peptides representing variable regions from within the B subtype or with more changes from the B subtype consensus sequence were less likely to stimulate a positive T cell response. A small percentage (17%) of unique T cell responses was found in this cohort that displayed no previously known T cell epitopes. Dominant responses generally overlapped with epitope-rich regions in HIV-1 described previously for whites, although many of these peptides were likely restricted by HLA class I alleles not previously associated with these epitopes. Hence host genetic variation among different racial groups may have less impact on the utility of candidate HIV-1 vaccines than previously suspected.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bansal A; Korber B; Wilson CM; Kaslow RA; Mulligan MJ; Sabbaj S; Edwards BH; Ritter D; Perkins C; Tang J
  • Start Page

  • 1017
  • End Page

  • 1026
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 11