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.
The contribution of HLA class II-restricted CD4+ T cell responses to HIV immune control is poorly defined. Here, we delineated novel peptide-DRB1 restrictions in functional assays and analyzed the host genetic effects of HLA-DRB1 alleles on HIV viremia in a large cohort of HIV controllers and progressors (n=1085). We found distinct stratifications in the effect of HLA-DRB1 alleles on HIV viremia, with DRB1*15:02 significantly associated with low viremia (P=0.003, q=0.04) and DRB1*03:01 significantly associated with high viremia (P=0.004, q=0.04). Interestingly, a sub-group of HLA-DRB1 alleles linked with low viremia showed the ability to promiscuously present a larger breadth of peptides with lower functional avidity when compared to HLA-DRB1 alleles linked with high viremia (p=0.018). Our data provide systematic evidence that HLA-DRB1 allele expression significantly impacts the durable control of HIV replication, an effect that appears to be mediated primarily by the protein-specificity of HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses to Gag and Nef.
Human herpesviruses are important causes of potentially severe chronic infections for which T cells are believed to be necessary for control. In order to examine the role of virus-specific CD8 T cells against Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), we generated a comprehensive panel of potential epitopes predicted in silico and screened for T cell responses in healthy VZV seropositive donors. We identified a dominant HLA-A*0201-restricted epitope in the VZV ribonucleotide reductase subunit 2 and used a tetramer to analyze the phenotype and function of epitope-specific CD8 T cells. Interestingly, CD8 T cells responding to this VZV epitope also recognized homologous epitopes, not only in the other α-herpesviruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, but also the γ-herpesvirus, EBV. Responses against these epitopes did not depend on previous infection with the originating virus, thus indicating the cross-reactive nature of this T cell population. Between individuals, the cells demonstrated marked phenotypic heterogeneity. This was associated with differences in functional capacity related to increased inhibitory receptor expression (including PD-1) along with decreased expression of co-stimulatory molecules that potentially reflected their stimulation history. Vaccination with the live attenuated Zostavax vaccine did not efficiently stimulate a proliferative response in this epitope-specific population. Thus, we identified a human CD8 T cell epitope that is conserved in four clinically important herpesviruses but that was poorly boosted by the current adult VZV vaccine. We discuss the concept of a “pan-herpesvirus” vaccine that this discovery raises and the hurdles that may need to be overcome in order to achieve this.
Human herpesviruses can cause a wide range of serious infections. They are extremely common and individuals remain latently infected lifelong, with reactivations often causing recurrent or severe disease. T-cells are important in controlling herpesvirus infections and preventing their reactivation, so vaccines that induce T-cells are likely to improve control. Here, we examined human T-cells against VZV that might allow focused vaccine development. We identified a dominant target against which the majority of subjects had mounted a CD8 T-cell response. We found that very similar targets also exist in three other important herpesviruses, HSV-1, HSV-2 and EBV. We showed that CD8 T-cells recognizing the VZV target could also recognize the others and we hypothesized that recurrent encounter with these viruses could boost this common response. In some individuals, immunization with a VZV vaccine did cause activation of these cells, but in most it did not. This reflects the variable efficacy of the currently available VZV vaccine. Our findings suggest that T-cell targets may be shared between herpesvirus species and may therefore contribute to a novel “pan-herpesvirus” vaccine. However, current VZV vaccines cannot reliably stimulate these T-cells and new strategies will be necessary to achieve this goal.
Natural progression of HIV-1 infection depends on genetic variation in the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I locus, and the CD8+ T cell response is thought to be a primary mechanism of this effect. However, polymorphism within the MHC may also alter innate immune activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by changing interactions of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules with leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILR), a group of immunoregulatory receptors mainly expressed on myelomonocytic cells including dendritic cells (DCs). We used previously characterized HLA allotype-specific binding capacities of LILRB1 and LILRB2 as well as data from a large cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals (N = 5126) to test whether LILR-HLA class I interactions influence viral load in HIV-1 infection. Our analyses in persons of European descent, the largest ethnic group examined, show that the effect of HLA-B alleles on HIV-1 control correlates with the binding strength between corresponding HLA-B allotypes and LILRB2 (p = 10−2). Moreover, overall binding strength of LILRB2 to classical HLA class I allotypes, defined by the HLA-A/B/C genotypes in each patient, positively associates with viral replication in the absence of therapy in patients of both European (p = 10−11–10−9) and African (p = 10−5–10−3) descent. This effect appears to be driven by variations in LILRB2 binding affinities to HLA-B and is independent of individual class I allelic effects that are not related to the LILRB2 function. Correspondingly, in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of DCs. Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 disease outcomes through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors B1 and B2 (LILRB1 and LILRB2) bind HLA class I allotypes with variable affinities. Here, we show that the binding strength of LILRB2 to HLA class I positively associates with level of viremia in a large cohort of untreated HIV-1-infected patients. This effect appears to be driven by HLA-B polymorphism and demonstrates independence from class I allelic effects on viral load. Our in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of dendritic cells (DCs). Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 immune control through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Background. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)–mediated immune reconstitution fails to restore the capacity of the immune system to spontaneously control human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication.
Methods. A total of 23 HIV type 1 (HIV-1)–infected, virologically suppressed subjects receiving ART (CD4+ T-cell count, >450 cells/μL) were randomly assigned to have 180 μg/week (for arm A) or 90 μg/week (for arm B) of pegylated (Peg) interferon alfa-2a added to their current ART regimen. After 5 weeks, ART was interrupted, and Peg–interferon alfa-2a was continued for up to 12 weeks (the primary end point), with an option to continue to 24 weeks. End points included virologic failure (viral load, ≥400 copies/mL) and adverse events. Residual viral load and HIV-1 DNA integration were also assessed.
Results. At week 12 of Peg–interferon alfa-2a monotherapy, viral suppression was observed in 9 of 20 subjects (45%), a significantly greater proportion than expected (arm A, P = .0088; arm B, P = .0010; combined arms, P < .0001). Over 24 weeks, both arms had lower proportions of subjects who had viral load, compared with the proportion of subjects in a historical control group (arm A, P = .0046; arm B, P = .0011). Subjects who had a sustained viral load of <400 copies/mL had decreased levels of integrated HIV DNA (P = .0313) but increased residual viral loads (P = .0078), compared with subjects who experienced end-point failure.
Conclusions. Peg–interferon alfa-2a immunotherapy resulted in control of HIV replication and decreased HIV-1 integration, supporting a role for immunomediated approaches in HIV suppression and/or eradication.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00594880.
HIV-1; interferon-alpha; viral integration; immunotherapy
Ancestral background, specifically African descent, confers higher risk for development of inhibitory antibodies to factor VIII (FVIII) in hemophilia A. It has been suggested that differences in the distribution of factor VIII gene (F8) haplotypes, and mismatch between endogenous F8 haplotypes and those comprising products used for treatment could contribute to risk.
Design and Methods
Data from the HIGS Combined Cohort were used to determine the association between F8 haplotype 3 (H3) vs. haplotypes 1 and 2 (H1+H2) and inhibitor risk among individuals of genetically-determined African descent. Other variables known to affect inhibitor risk including type of F8 mutation and HLA were included in the analysis. A second research question regarding risk related to mismatch in endogenous F8 haplotype and recombinant FVIII products used for treatment was addressed.
H3 was associated with higher inhibitor risk among those genetically-identified (N=49) as of African ancestry, but the association did not remain significant after adjustment for F8 mutation type and the HLA variables. Among subjects of all racial ancestries enrolled in HIGS who reported early use of recombinant products (N=223), mismatch in endogenous haplotype and the FVIII proteins constituting the products used did not confer greater risk for inhibitor development.
H3 was not an independent predictor of inhibitor risk. Further, our findings did not support a higher risk of inhibitors in the presence of a haplotype mismatch between the FVIII molecule infused and that of the individual.
F8 haplotype; FVIII inhibitors; haplotype mismatch
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotype has been associated with probability of spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, no prior studies have examined whether this relationship may be further characterized by grouping HLA alleles according to their supertypes, defined by their binding capacities. There is debate regarding the most appropriate method to define supertypes. Therefore, previously reported HLA supertypes (46 class I and 25 class II) were assessed for their relation with HCV clearance in a population of 758 HCV-seropositive women. Two HLA class II supertypes were significant in multivariable models that included: (i) supertypes with significant or borderline associations with HCV clearance after adjustment for multiple tests, and (ii) individual HLA alleles not part of these supertypes, but associated with HCV clearance in our prior study in this population. Specifically, supertype DRB3 (prevalence ratio (PR)=0.4; p=0.004) was associated with HCV persistence while DR8 (PR=1.8; p=0.01) was associated with HCV clearance. Two individual alleles (B*57:01 and C*01:02) associated with HCV clearance in our prior study became non-significant in analysis that included supertypes while B*57:03 (PR=1.9; p=0.008) and DRB1*07:01 (PR=1.7; p=0.005) retained significance. These data provide epidemiologic support for the significance of HLA supertypes in relation to HCV clearance.
hepatitis C virus; HLA; human leukocyte antigen; supertype
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region is strongly associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. HLA-DRB1*15:01 has the strongest effect, and several other alleles have been reported at different levels of validation. Using SNP data from genome-wide studies, we imputed and tested classical alleles and amino acid polymorphisms in 8 classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes in 5,091 cases and 9,595 controls. We identified 11 statistically independent effects overall: 6 HLA-DRB1 and one DPB1 alleles in class II, one HLA-A and two B alleles in class I, and one signal in a region spanning from MICB to LST1. This genomic segment does not contain any HLA class I or II genes and provides robust evidence for the involvement of a non-HLA risk allele within the MHC. Interestingly, this region contains the TNF gene, the cognate ligand of the well-validated TNFRSF1A MS susceptibility gene. The classical HLA effects can be explained to some extent by polymorphic amino acid positions in the peptide-binding grooves. This study dissects the independent effects in the MHC, a critical region for MS susceptibility that harbors multiple risk alleles.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease with a heritable component. Although it has been known for a long time that the strongest MS risk factor maps to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6, there are still many unresolved questions as to the identity and the nature of the risk variants within the MHC. Because the MHC has a complex structure, systematic investigation across this region has been challenging. In this study, we used state-of-the-art imputation methods coupled to statistical regression to query variants in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II genes for a role in MS risk. Starting from available SNP genotype data, we replicated the strongest risk factor, the HLA-DRB1*15:01 allele, and were able to identify 11 independent effects in total. Functional studies are now needed to understand their mechanism in MS etiology.
HLA-B alleles are associated with viral control in chronic HIV-1 infection, however, their role in primary HIV-1 disease is unclear. This study sought to determine the role of HLA-B alleles in viral control during the acute phase of HIV-1 infection and establishment of the early viral load set point (VLSP).
Individuals identified during primary HIV-1 infection were HLA class I typed and followed longitudinally. Associations between HLA-B alleles and HIV-1 viral replication during acute infection and VLSP were analyzed in untreated subjects. The results showed that neither HLA-B*57 nor HLA-B*27 were significantly associated with viral control during acute HIV-1 infection (Fiebig stage I-IV, n=171). HLA-B*57 was however significantly associated with a subsequent lower VLSP (p<0.001, n=135) with nearly 1 log10 less median viral load. Analysis of a known polymorphism at position 97 of HLA-B showed significant associations with both lower initial viral load (p<0.01) and lower VLSP (p<0.05). However, this association was dependent on different amino acids at this position for each endpoint.
The effect of HLA-B*57 on viral control is more pronounced during the later stages of primary HIV-1 infection, which suggests the underlying mechanism of control occurs at a critical period in the first several months after HIV-1 acquisition. The risk profile of polymorphisms at position 97 of HLA-B are more broadly associated with HIV-1 viral load during primary infection and may serve as a focal point in further studies of HLA-B function.
HLA-B*57; HLA-B; Acute HIV-1 infection; Primary HIV-1 infection; Viral load set point; MHC class I
Both protective T cell genotypes and NK cell genotypes have been associated with delayed progression to AIDS and shown to be co-inherited in HIV-1 infected subjects who limit viral replication in absence of antiretroviral therapy (“controllers”). However, a comparative analysis of the genotype and function of the innate and adaptive immune compartments in HIV-1 infected controller subjects has been understudied to date.
Here, we simultaneously tested NK and T cell function in controllers to investigate the mechanism(s) that might account for host-immune control over viral replication.
We measured CD8 T cell responses against HIV-1 utilizing overlapping 15-mer peptides spanning the HIV-1 Consensus Clade B Gag protein and tested NK cell degranulation and cytokine secretion against tumor target cells following IFN-alpha stimulation.
Among a cohort of 37 controllers, the presence of protective MHC-Class I HLA alleles (such as HLA-B*57) was not correlated with HIV-specific CD8 responses. In contrast, the inheritance of a protective KIR3DL1*h/*y receptor genotype along with the corresponding HLA-Bw4*80I ligand was associated with significantly heightened target cell-induced NK degranulation and cytokine secretion following IFN-alpha stimulation (p=0.0201, n=13). Interestingly, we observed a significant inverse association between the IFN-alpha stimulated NK response to K562 cells and the HIV-specific CD8 T cell response to Gag among elite controllers. (rho=−0.8321, p=0.0010, n=12).
Together, these results suggest that heightened NK responses can be evidenced independently of HIV-specific T cell responses in HIV-1 infected elite controllers.
HIV-1; AIDS; T Cells; NK Cells; HLA; KIR; Elite Controllers
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.