Infectious and inflammatory diseases have repeatedly shown strong genetic associations within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC); however, the basis for these associations remains elusive. To define host genetic effects on the outcome of a chronic viral infection, we performed genome-wide association analysis in a multiethnic cohort of HIV-1 controllers and progressors, and we analyzed the effects of individual amino acids within the classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins. We identified >300 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC and none elsewhere. Specific amino acids in the HLA-B peptide binding groove, as well as an independent HLA-C effect, explain the SNP associations and reconcile both protective and risk HLA alleles. These results implicate the nature of the HLA–viral peptide interaction as the major factor modulating durable control of HIV infection.
A variant upstream of human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) shows the most significant genome-wide effect on HIV control in European Americans and is also associated with the level of HLA-C expression. We characterized the differential cell surface expression levels of all common HLA-C allotypes and tested directly for effects of HLA-C expression on outcomes of HIV infection in 5243 individuals. Increasing HLA-C expression was associated with protection against multiple outcomes independently of individual HLA allelic effects in both African and European Americans, regardless of their distinct HLA-C frequencies and linkage relationships with HLA-B and HLA-A. Higher HLA-C expression was correlated with increased likelihood of cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses and frequency of viral escape mutation. In contrast, high HLA-C expression had a deleterious effect in Crohn’s disease, suggesting a broader influence of HLA expression levels in human disease.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections occur worldwide and either spontaneously resolve or persist and markedly increase the person’s lifetime risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although HCV persistence occurs more often in persons of African ancestry and in persons with a genetic variant near IL28B, the genetic basis is not well understood.
To evaluate the host genetic basis for spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
Two-stage genome wide association study (GWAS).
13 international multicenter study sites.
919 individuals with serum HCV antibodies but no HCV RNA (spontaneous resolution) and 1482 individuals with serum HCV antibodies and RNA (persistence).
Frequencies of 792,721 SNPs.
Differences in allele frequencies between persons with spontaneous resolution and persistence were identified on chromosomes 19q13.13 and 6p21.32. On chromosome 19, allele frequency differences localized near IL28B and included rs12979860 (overall per-allele OR = 0.45, P = 2.17 × 10−30) and 10 additional SNPs spanning 55,000 bases. On chromosome 6, allele frequency differences localized near genes for class II human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and included rs4273729 (overall per-allele OR= 0.59, P = 1.71 × 10−16) near DQB1*03:01 and an additional 116 SNPs spanning 1,090,000 base pairs. The associations in chromosomes 19 and 6 were independent, additive, and explain an estimated 14.9% (95% CI: 8.5–22.6%) of the variation in HCV resolution in those of European-Ancestry, and 15.8% (95% CI:4.4–31.0%) in individuals of African-Ancestry. Replication of the chromosome 6 SNP, rs4272729 in an additional 746 individuals confirmed the findings (p=0.015).
Epigenetic effects were not studied.
IL28B and HLA class II are independently associated with spontaneous resolution of HCV infection and SNPs marking IL28B and DQB1*03:01 may explain ~15% of spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
The human gut mucosa is a major site of HIV infection and infection-associated pathogenesis. Increasing evidence shows that natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in control of HIV infection but the mechanism(s) by which they mediate antiviral activity in the gut is unclear. Here we show two distinct subsets of NK cells exist in the gut, one localized to intraepithelial spaces (IEL) and the other to the lamina propria (LP). The frequency of both subsets of NK cells was reduced in chronic infection, whereas IEL NK cells remained stable in spontaneous controllers with protective KIR/HLA genotypes. Both IEL and LP NK cells were significantly expanded in immunologic non-responsive (INR) patients, who incompletely recovered CD4+ T cells on HAART. These data suggest that both IEL and LP NK cells may expand in the gut in an effort to compensate for compromised CD4+ T cell recovery, but that only IEL NK cells may be involved in providing durable control of HIV in the gut,
The potential contribution of HLA-A alleles to viremic control in chronic HIV type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been relatively understudied compared with HLA-B. In these studies, we show that HLA-A*7401 is associated with favorable viremic control in extended southern African cohorts of >2100 C-clade–infected subjects. We present evidence that HLA-A*7401 operates an effect that is independent of HLA-B*5703, with which it is in linkage disequilibrium in some populations, to mediate lowered viremia. We describe a novel statistical approach to detecting additive effects between class I alleles in control of HIV-1 disease, highlighting improved viremic control in subjects with HLA-A*7401 combined with HLA-B*57. In common with HLA-B alleles that are associated with effective control of viremia, HLA-A*7401 presents highly targeted epitopes in several proteins, including Gag, Pol, Rev, and Nef, of which the Gag epitopes appear immunodominant. We identify eight novel putative HLA-A*7401–restricted epitopes, of which three have been defined to the optimal epitope. In common with HLA-B alleles linked with slow progression, viremic control through an HLA-A*7401–restricted response appears to be associated with the selection of escape mutants within Gag epitopes that reduce viral replicative capacity. These studies highlight the potentially important contribution of an HLA-A allele to immune control of HIV infection, which may have been concealed by a stronger effect mediated by an HLA-B allele with which it is in linkage disequilibrium. In addition, these studies identify a factor contributing to different HIV disease outcomes in individuals expressing HLA-B*5703.
Host genetic variation is presently estimated to account for about one-fourth of the observed differences in control of HIV across infected individuals. Genome-wide association studies have confirmed that polymorphism within the HLA class I locus is the primary host genetic contributor to determining outcome after infection. Here we progress beyond the genetic associations alone to consider the functional explanations for these correlations. In this process, the complex and multidimensional effects of HLA molecules in viral disease become apparent.
HLA-B; HLA-C 3′ UTR; genome-wide association study; cytotoxic T lymphocytes; microRNA
Multiple epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, and more recently the killer cell immunoglobulin-like (KIR) locus has been implicated in differential responses to the virus. Genome-wide association studies have convincingly shown that the HLA class I locus is the most significant host genetic contributor to the variation in HIV control, underscoring a central role for CD8 T cells in resistance to the virus. However, both genetic and functional data indicate that part of the HLA effect on HIV is due to interactions between KIR and HLA genes, also implicating natural killer cells in defense against viral infection and viral expansion prior to initiation of an adaptive response. We review the HLA and KIR associations with HIV disease and the progress that has been made in understanding the mechanisms that explain these associations.
CTL; escape mutations; NK cells; GWAS; host genetics; viral evolution
Multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed in HIV-1 infected individuals, identifying common genetic influences on viral control and disease course. Similarly, common genetic correlates of acquisition of HIV-1 after exposure have been interrogated using GWAS, although in generally small samples. Under the auspices of the International Collaboration for the Genomics of HIV, we have combined the genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data collected by 25 cohorts, studies, or institutions on HIV-1 infected individuals and compared them to carefully matched population-level data sets (a list of all collaborators appears in Note S1 in Text S1). After imputation using the 1,000 Genomes Project reference panel, we tested approximately 8 million common DNA variants (SNPs and indels) for association with HIV-1 acquisition in 6,334 infected patients and 7,247 population samples of European ancestry. Initial association testing identified the SNP rs4418214, the C allele of which is known to tag the HLA-B*57:01 and B*27:05 alleles, as genome-wide significant (p = 3.6×10−11). However, restricting analysis to individuals with a known date of seroconversion suggested that this association was due to the frailty bias in studies of lethal diseases. Further analyses including testing recessive genetic models, testing for bulk effects of non-genome-wide significant variants, stratifying by sexual or parenteral transmission risk and testing previously reported associations showed no evidence for genetic influence on HIV-1 acquisition (with the exception of CCR5Δ32 homozygosity). Thus, these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
Comparing the frequency differences between common DNA variants in disease-affected cases and in unaffected controls has been successful in uncovering the genetic component of multiple diseases. This approach is most effective when large samples of cases and controls are available. Here we combine information from multiple studies of HIV infected patients, including more than 6,300 HIV+ individuals, with data from 7,200 general population samples of European ancestry to test nearly 8 million common DNA variants for an impact on HIV acquisition. With this large sample we did not observe any single common genetic variant that significantly associated with HIV acquisition. We further tested 22 variants previously identified by smaller studies as influencing HIV acquisition. With the exception of a deletion polymorphism in the CCR5 gene (CCR5Δ32) we found no convincing evidence to support these previous associations. Taken together these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
The HLA-C*07:01:01G allele group consists of three nonsynonymous alleles, C*07:01:01, C*07:06 and C*07:18, plus C*07:01:02, which is synonymous to C*07:01:01. All of these alleles have identical exons 2, 3 and 4, but differ in exons 5 or 6. Therefore routine sequence-based typing (SBT) of exons 2 and 3 is unable to resolve these subtypes, resulting in ambiguous typing results in population and disease cohort studies. In the present study, we fully characterized C*07:01:01G subtypes in European and African Americans and examined their relative frequency distributions. In European Americans C*07:01:01G is predominantly represented by C*07:01:01 (94.4%), whereas C*07:01:02 (1.1%) and C*07:18 (4.5%) were detected relatively infrequently. In African Americans C*07:18 (42.4%) showed a high frequency similar to that of C*07:01:01 (44.7%) whereas C*07:06 was detected at a low frequency (4.7%). C*07:06 was found exclusively on B*44:03 carrying haplotypes in both ethnic groups, but C*07:18 showed multiple linkage relationships with HLA-B. These results demonstrate that C*07:01:01G as defined by routine SBT is a heterogeneous group of alleles, especially among individuals of African origin. If C*07:01:01G subtypes prove to bear divergent functional significance, it would be necessary to include these subtypes in routine HLA-C typing for clinical transplantation and disease association studies.
HLA-C locus; allele diversity; C*07:01:01G; allele combination; sequence-based typing (SBT)
Whole genome comparisons identified introgression from archaic to modern humans. Our analysis of highly polymorphic HLA class I, vital immune system components subject to strong balancing selection, shows how modern humans acquired the HLA-B*73 allele in west Asia through admixture with archaic humans called Denisovans, a likely sister group to the Neandertals. Virtual genotyping of Denisovan and Neandertal genomes identified archaic HLA haplotypes carrying functionally distinctive alleles that have introgressed into modern Eurasian and Oceanian populations. These alleles, of which several encode unique or strong ligands for natural killer cell receptors, now represent more than half the HLA alleles of modern Eurasians and also appear to have been later introduced into Africans. Thus, adaptive introgression of archaic alleles has significantly shaped modern human immune systems.
HLA class I-associated polymorphisms identified at the population level mark viral sites under immune pressure by individual HLA alleles. As such, analysis of their distribution, frequency, location, statistical strength, sequence conservation, and other properties offers a unique perspective from which to identify correlates of protective cellular immunity. We analyzed HLA-associated HIV-1 subtype B polymorphisms in 1,888 treatment-naïve, chronically infected individuals using phylogenetically informed methods and identified characteristics of HLA-associated immune pressures that differentiate protective and nonprotective alleles. Over 2,100 HLA-associated HIV-1 polymorphisms were identified, approximately one-third of which occurred inside or within 3 residues of an optimally defined cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) epitope. Differential CTL escape patterns between closely related HLA alleles were common and increased with greater evolutionary distance between allele group members. Among 9-mer epitopes, mutations at HLA-specific anchor residues represented the most frequently detected escape type: these occurred nearly 2-fold more frequently than expected by chance and were computationally predicted to reduce peptide-HLA binding nearly 10-fold on average. Characteristics associated with protective HLA alleles (defined using hazard ratios for progression to AIDS from natural history cohorts) included the potential to mount broad immune selection pressures across all HIV-1 proteins except Nef, the tendency to drive multisite and/or anchor residue escape mutations within known CTL epitopes, and the ability to strongly select mutations in conserved regions within HIV's structural and functional proteins. Thus, the factors defining protective cellular immune responses may be more complex than simply targeting conserved viral regions. The results provide new information to guide vaccine design and immunogenicity studies.
Genetic variation within the HLA-B locus has the strongest impact on HIV disease progression of any polymorphisms within the human genome. However, identifying the exact mechanism involved is complicated by several factors. HLA-Bw4 alleles provide ligands for NK cells and for CD8 T cells, and strong linkage disequilibrium between HLA class I alleles complicates the discrimination of individual HLA allelic effects from those of other HLA and non-HLA alleles on the same haplotype. Here, we exploit an experiment of nature involving two recently diverged HLA alleles, HLA-B*42:01 and HLA-B*42:02, which differ by only a single amino acid. Crucially, they occur primarily on identical HLA class I haplotypes and, as Bw6 alleles, do not act as NK cell ligands and are therefore largely unconfounded by other genetic factors. We show that in an outbred cohort (n = 2,093) of HIV C-clade-infected individuals, a single amino acid change at position 9 of the HLA-B molecule critically affects peptide binding and significantly alters the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes targeted, measured directly ex vivo by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay (P = 2 × 10−10) and functionally through CTL escape mutation (P = 2 × 10−8). HLA-B*42:01, which presents multiple Gag epitopes, is associated with a 0.52 log10 lower viral-load set point than HLA-B*42:02 (P = 0.02), which presents no p24 Gag epitopes. The magnitude of this effect from a single amino acid difference in the HLA-A*30:01/B*42/Cw*17:01 haplotype is equivalent to 75% of that of HLA-B*57:03, the most protective HLA class I allele in this population. This naturally controlled experiment represents perhaps the clearest demonstration of the direct impact of a particular HIV-specific CTL on disease control.
We investigated the effect of HLA class I alleles on clinical parameters for HIV-1 disease progression in the Japanese population, where two strongly protective alleles, HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*27, are virtually nonexistent. HLA-B alleles showed a dominant role, primarily through HLA-B*67:01 and the HLA-B*52:01-C*12:02 haplotype. Neither a rare-allele nor a heterozygote advantage was found, suggesting that the effect of HLA alleles in the Japanese population is either different from those observed in Africans and Caucasians or undetectable due to limited power.
The human KIR genes are arranged in at least six major gene-content haplotypes, all of which are combinations of four centromeric and two telomeric motifs. Several less frequent or minor haplotypes also exist, including insertions, deletions, and hybridization of KIR genes derived from the major haplotypes. These haplotype structures and their concomitant linkage disequilibrium among KIR genes suggest that more meaningful correlative data from studies of KIR genetics and complex disease may be achieved by measuring haplotypes of the KIR region in total.
Towards that end, we developed a KIR haplotyping method that reports unambiguous combinations of KIR gene-content haplotypes, including both phase and copy number for each KIR. A total of 37 different gene content haplotypes were detected from 4,512 individuals and new sequence data was derived from haplotypes where the detailed structure was not previously available.
These new structures suggest a number of specific recombinant events during the course of KIR evolution, and add to an expanding diversity of potential new KIR haplotypes derived from gene duplication, deletion, and hybridization.
Natural killer cells; Human; KIR; Recombinant structures
Natural killer (NK) cells play a critical role in the control of HIV-1 infection, and NK cells that respond to HIV-1 peptides have been recently described. However, the mechanisms by which NK cells recognize HIV-1 antigens are not fully understood. We investigated NK cell activation in response to HIV-1 peptides during early and chronic HIV-1 clade B infection using a whole-blood assay and multiparameter flow cytometry. Antibody-mediated NK cell activation in response to HIV-1 peptides was not detected in HIV-1-uninfected individuals. In contrast, 79% of individuals with chronic infection and 22% of individuals with early infection had detectable gamma interferon (IFN-γ) NK cell responses to HIV-1 antigens (P < 0.00001). IFN-γ- and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)-producing NK cells most frequently targeted Env gp120 (median of 4% and range of 0 to 31% of all NK cells). NK cells rarely targeted other HIV-1 proteins such as Gag, Pol, and Nef. Antibody-mediated NK cell responses to peptides mapped predominantly to Env protein, required the presence of plasma or plasma IgG, and resulted in lower CD16 expression on NK cells, suggesting an antibody-mediated activation of NK cells. Further studies are needed to assess the consequences of these antibody-mediated NK cell responses for HIV-1 disease progression and vaccine-induced protection from infection.
Variants near the HLA-DP gene show the strongest genome-wide association with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and HBV recovery/persistence in Asians. To test the effect of the HLA-DP region on outcomes to HBV infection, we sequenced the polymorphic HLA-DPB1 and DPA1 coding exons and the corresponding 3′ untranslated regions (3′UTRs) in 662 individuals of European-American and African-American ancestry. The genome-wide association study (GWAS) variant (rs9277535; 550A/G) in the 3′UTR of the HLA-DPB1 gene that associated most significantly with chronic hepatitis B and outcomes to HBV infection in Asians had a marginal effect on HBV recovery in our European- and African-American samples (odds ratio [OR] = 0.39, P = 0.01, combined ethnic groups). However, we identified a novel variant in the HLA-DPB1 3′UTR region, 496A/G (rs9277534), which associated very significantly with HBV recovery in both European and African-American populations (OR = 0.37, P = 0.0001, combined ethnic groups). The 496A/G variant distinguishes the most protective HLA-DPB1 allele (DPB1*04:01) from the most susceptible (DPB1*01:01), whereas 550A/G does not. 496A/G has a stronger effect than any individual HLA-DPB1 or DPA1 allele and any other HLA alleles that showed an association with HBV recovery in our European-American cohort. The 496GG genotype, which confers recessive susceptibility to HBV persistence, also associates in a recessive manner with significantly higher levels of HLA-DP surface protein and transcript level expression in healthy donors, suggesting that differences in expression of HLA-DP may increase the risk of persistent HBV infection.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an epithelial malignancy facilitated by Epstein-Barr Virus infection. Here we resolve the major genetic influences for NPC incidence using a genome-wide association study (GWAS), independent cohort replication, and high-resolution molecular HLA class I gene typing including 4,055 study participants from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guangdong province of southern China. We detect and replicate strong association signals involving SNPs, HLA alleles, and amino acid (aa) variants across the major histocompatibility complex-HLA-A, HLA –B, and HLA -C class I genes (PHLA-A-aa-site-62 = 7.4×10−29; P HLA-B-aa-site-116 = 6.5×10−19; P HLA-C-aa-site-156 = 6.8×10−8 respectively). Over 250 NPC-HLA associated variants within HLA were analyzed in concert to resolve separate and largely independent HLA-A, -B, and -C gene influences. Multivariate logistical regression analysis collapsed significant associations in adjacent genes spanning 500 kb (OR2H1, GABBR1, HLA-F, and HCG9) as proxies for peptide binding motifs carried by HLA- A*11:01. A similar analysis resolved an independent association signal driven by HLA-B*13:01, B*38:02, and B*55:02 alleles together. NPC resistance alleles carrying the strongly associated amino acid variants implicate specific class I peptide recognition motifs in HLA-A and -B peptide binding groove as conferring strong genetic influence on the development of NPC in China.
NPC is a deadly throat cancer in China that is dependent on EBV infection. Here, we performed a 1 M SNP genome-wide association study using a large cohort of Chinese study participants at risk for NPC. Although several putative gene regions show significant associations, the strongest statistical signals involved scores of variants within the HLA region on chromosome 6. HLA poses a formidable association-genetics challenge because of extensive linkage disequilibrium, rather low allele frequencies, and multiple physically close interacting genes of diverse function. We examined over 250 NPC-HLA associated variants detected with sequence-based nucleotide alleles and amino acid variants. The multiple associations were collapsed to implicate causal signals by multivariate logistical regression to resolve allele association interaction. One operative variant was identified as the HLA-A*11:01 allele motif, specifically in the peptide binding groove, which recognizes invading antigens; a second involved two aa sites with HLA-B tracking B*13:01 and B*55:02 alleles. We synthesize these new and previous discoveries to help resolve the important gene influences on this disease.
Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are expressed on natural killer (NK) cells and subsets of T cells. The KIR genes are polymorphic and the KIR gene complex is polygenic with varying numbers of inhibitory and activating receptors. HLA class I molecules serve as ligands for the KIR. Interactions of the independently segregating KIR and HLA loci are important for recognition of targets by NK cells as well as NK cell ‘licensing’. Several disease association studies indicate a role for interactions between these loci in infectious diseases, autoimmune/inflammatory disorders, cancer and reproduction. Emerging functional data supports a mechanism based on a continuum of inhibition to activation through various compound KIR-HLA genotypes in diseases.
KIR; HLA; Natural killer cells; disease associations
Dendritic cells have critical roles for generating and fine-tuning adaptive immune responses and for regulating immune activity through cytokine secretion. In this study, we analyzed functional properties of dendritic cells in primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. We found substantial disarray of the functional properties of myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in acute HIV-1 infection, which included defective antigen-presenting and cytokine secretion properties and was associated with a distinct surface expression profile of immunomodulatory dendritic cell receptors from the leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor family. These data indicate that key functional properties of dendritic cells are compromised during primary HIV-1 infection.
Purpose of review
The purpose of this review is to highlight recent advances in our understanding of host genetic determinants of HIV pathogenesis and to provide a theoretical framework for interpreting these studies in the context of our evolving understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis.
The first genome-wide association analysis of host determinants of HIV pathogenesis and other recent studies evaluating the interaction between killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors and human leukocyte antigen alleles have implicated both adaptive and innate immune responses in the control of HIV replication. Furthermore, genetic variation associated with the expression of CCR5 and its ligand have been strongly associated with both decreased susceptibility to HIV infection and delayed clinical progression, independent of their effects on viral replication, suggesting a potential role for CCR5 inhibitors as immune-based therapies in HIV disease.
Host factors associated with the control of HIV replication may help identify important targets for vaccine design, while those associated with delayed clinical progression provide targets for future immune-based therapies against HIV infection.
CCR5; HIV pathogenesis; HLA; host genetic variation; KIR
Diversity across KIR haplotypes stems from differences in numbers of inhibitory and activating receptors, as well as allelic polymorphism of individual genes. The KIR locus has undergone large expansions and contractions over time and is believed to be coevolving with genes encoding its HLA class I ligands located within the MHC locus. KIR and HLA compound genotypes have been associated with susceptibility to or protection from infectious, autoimmune, reproductive, and malignant disorders. We describe here a simple and reliable multiplex PCR-SSP (sequence-specific priming) method for relatively rapid and inexpensive genotyping of 15 KIR genes using standard agarose gel electrophoresis.
KIR genotyping; NK cell; KIR haplotypes; multiplex PCR; PCR-SSP
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I loci are essential to an effective immune response against a wide variety of pathogenic microorganisms, and they represent the prototypes for genetic polymorphism that are sustained through balancing selection. The functional significance of HLA class I variation is better exemplified by studies involving HIV type 1 (HIV-1) than any other infectious organism. HLA class I molecules are essential to the acquired immune response, but they are also important in innate immunity as ligands for the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR), which modulate natural killer cell activity. Here we concentrate on the interaction between the HLA-B and KIR3DL1/KIR3DS1 genes, describe the effects of these loci on HIV disease, and discuss questions that remain unresolved.
NK cell activity is regulated by the integration of positive and negative signals. One important source of these signals for human NK cells is the KIR family which includes both members that transduce positive and those that generate negative signals. KIR3DL1 inhibits NK cell activity upon engagement by its ligand HLA-Bw4. The highly homologous KIR3DS1 is an activating receptor, which has implicated in the outcome of a variety of pathological situations. However, unlike KIR3DL1, direct binding of KIR3DS1+ cells to HLA has not been demonstrated. We analyzed four key amino acid differences between KIR3DL1*01502 and KIR3DS1*013 to determine their role in KIR binding to HLA. Single substitutions of these residues dramatically reduced binding by KIR3DL1. In the reciprocal experiment, we found that the rare KIR3DS1 allotype KIR3DS1*014 binds HLA-Bw4 even though it differs from KIR3DS1*013 at only one of these positions (138). This reactivity was unexpectedly dependent on residues at other variable positions, as HLA-Bw4 binding was lost in receptors with KIR3DL1-like residues at both positions 199 and 138. These data provide the first evidence for the direct binding of a KIR3DS1+ cells to HLA-Bw4, and highlights the key role for position 138 in determining ligand specificity of KIR3DS1. They also reveal that KIR3DS1 reactivity and specificity is dictated by complex interactions between the residues in this region, suggesting a unique functional evolution of KIR3DS1 within the activating KIR family.
We examined associations between maternal HLA and vertical HIV-1 transmission in a perinatal cohort of 277 HIV-infected women in Nairobi. HLA class I genes were amplified using sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes and analyses were performed using logistic regression. Maternal A*2301 was associated with increased transmission risk before and after adjusting for maternal viral load (odds ratio [OR]=3.21; 95% CI: 1.42, 7.27, p=0.005, pcorr=0.04; adjusted OR=3.07; 95% CI: 1.26, 7.51, p=0.01, pcorr=NS). That maternal HLA-A*2301 was associated with transmission independent of plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, suggests that HLA may alter infectivity through mechanisms other than influencing HIV-1 viral load.
Human immunodeficiency virus; vertical HIV-1 transmission; human leukocyte antigen
Accumulating evidence suggests an important role for Natural Killer (NK) cells in the control of HIV-1 infection. Recently, it was shown that NK cell-mediated immune pressure can result in the selection of HIV-1 escape mutations. A potential mechanism for this NK cell escape is the selection of HLA class I-presented HIV-1 epitopes that allow for the engagement of inhibitory killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), notably KIR2DL2. We therefore investigated the consequences of sequence variations within HLA-Cw*0102-restricted epitopes on the interaction of HLA-Cw*0102 with KIR2DL2 using a large panel of overlapping HIV-1 p24 Gag peptides. 217 decameric peptides spanning the HIV-1 p24 Gag consensus sequence were screened for HLA-Cw*0102 stabilization by co-incubation with Cw*0102(+)/TAP-deficient T2 cells using a flow cytometry-based assay. KIR2DL2 binding was assessed using a KIR2DL2-IgG fusion construct. Function of KIR2DL2(+) NK cells was flow cytometrically analyzed by measuring degranulation of primary NK cells after co-incubation with peptide-pulsed T2 cells. We identified 11 peptides stabilizing HLA-Cw*0102 on the surface of T2 cells. However, only one peptide (p24 Gag209–218 AAEWDRLHPV) allowed for binding of KIR2DL2. Notably, functional analysis showed a significant inhibition of KIR2DL2(+) NK cells in the presence of p24 Gag209–218-pulsed T2 cells, while degranulation of KIR2DL2(−) NK cells was not affected. Moreover, we demonstrated that sequence variations in position 7 of this epitope observed frequently in naturally occurring HIV-1 sequences can modulate binding to KIR2DL2. Our results show that the majority of HIV-1 p24 Gag peptides stabilizing HLA-Cw*0102 do not allow for binding of KIR2DL2, but identified one HLA-Cw*0102-presented peptide (p24 Gag209–218) that was recognized by the inhibitory NK cell receptor KIR2DL2 leading to functional inhibition of KIR2DL2-expressing NK cells. Engagement of KIR2DL2 might protect virus-infected cells from NK cell-mediated lysis and selections of sequence polymorphisms that increase avidity to KIR2DL2 might provide a mechanism for HIV-1 to escape NK cell-mediated immune pressure.
Distinguishing between “self” and “non-self” is one of the fundamental principles of immune responses against viral infections. Upon viral infection the peptide repertoire presented by HLA class I molecules changes, potentially providing signals that result in recognition and elimination of the infected cell by the host immune system. Viruses, in particular HIV-1, developed multiple strategies to escape T cell and Natural Killer (NK) cell-mediated immune pressure, including sequence variations that lead to the engagement of inhibitory receptors expressed on T cells and NK cells. The systematic approach used in this study led to the identification of an HLA-presented HIV-1 peptide that allows engagement of the inhibitory NK cell receptor KIR2DL2 and inhibition of NK function. Our findings help to elucidate the complex interaction between KIR molecules, such as KIR2DL2, and HLA/peptide complexes and provide a foundation for further studies investigating the role of sequence variations within HIV-1 epitopes on HLA/KIR interactions, and the ability of viruses to evade NK cell-mediated recognition.