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1.  Risk for ACPA-positive rheumatoid arthritis is driven by shared HLA amino acid polymorphisms in Asian and European populations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(25):6916-6926.
Previous studies have emphasized ethnically heterogeneous human leukocyte antigen (HLA) classical allele associations to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk. We fine-mapped RA risk alleles within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in 2782 seropositive RA cases and 4315 controls of Asian descent. We applied imputation to determine genotypes for eight class I and II HLA genes to Asian populations for the first time using a newly constructed pan-Asian reference panel. First, we empirically measured high imputation accuracy in Asian samples. Then we observed the most significant association in HLA-DRβ1 at amino acid position 13, located outside the classical shared epitope (Pomnibus = 6.9 × 10−135). The individual residues at position 13 have relative effects that are consistent with published effects in European populations (His > Phe > Arg > Tyr ≅ Gly > Ser)—but the observed effects in Asians are generally smaller. Applying stepwise conditional analysis, we identified additional independent associations at positions 57 (conditional Pomnibus = 2.2 × 10−33) and 74 (conditional Pomnibus = 1.1 × 10−8). Outside of HLA-DRβ1, we observed independent effects for amino acid polymorphisms within HLA-B (Asp9, conditional P = 3.8 × 10−6) and HLA-DPβ1 (Phe9, conditional P = 3.0 × 10−5) concordant with European populations. Our trans-ethnic HLA fine-mapping study reveals that (i) a common set of amino acid residues confer shared effects in European and Asian populations and (ii) these same effects can explain ethnically heterogeneous classical allelic associations (e.g. HLA-DRB1*09:01) due to allele frequency differences between populations. Our study illustrates the value of high-resolution imputation for fine-mapping causal variants in the MHC.
PMCID: PMC4245039  PMID: 25070946
2.  HIV-infected sex workers with beneficial HLA-variants are potential hubs for selection of HIV-1 recombinants that may affect disease progression 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11253.
Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses against the HIV Gag protein are associated with lowering viremia; however, immune control is undermined by viral escape mutations. The rapid viral mutation rate is a key factor, but recombination may also contribute. We hypothesized that CTL responses drive the outgrowth of unique intra-patient HIV-recombinants (URFs) and examined gag sequences from a Kenyan sex worker cohort. We determined whether patients with HLA variants associated with effective CTL responses (beneficial HLA variants) were more likely to carry URFs and, if so, examined whether they progressed more rapidly than patients with beneficial HLA-variants who did not carry URFs. Women with beneficial HLA-variants (12/52) were more likely to carry URFs than those without beneficial HLA variants (3/61) (p < 0.0055; odds ratio = 5.7). Beneficial HLA variants were primarily found in slow/standard progressors in the URF group, whereas they predominated in long-term non-progressors/survivors in the remaining cohort (p = 0.0377). The URFs may sometimes spread and become circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) of HIV and local CRF fragments were over-represented in the URF sequences (p < 0.0001). Collectively, our results suggest that CTL-responses associated with beneficial HLA variants likely drive the outgrowth of URFs that might reduce the positive effect of these CTL responses on disease progression.
PMCID: PMC4469978  PMID: 26082240
3.  HLA Class II Antigens and Their Interactive Effect on Perinatal Mother-To-Child HIV-1 Transmission 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0126068.
HLA class II antigens are central in initiating antigen-specific CD4+ T cell responses to HIV-1. Specific alleles have been associated with differential responses to HIV-1 infection and disease among adults. This study aims to determine the influence of HLA class II genes and their interactive effect on mother-child perinatal transmission in a drug naïve, Mother-Child HIV transmission cohort established in Kenya, Africa in 1986. Our study showed that DRB concordance between mother and child increased risk of perinatal HIV transmission by three fold (P = 0.00035/Pc = 0.0014, OR: 3.09, 95%CI, 1.64-5.83). Whereas, DPA1, DPB1 and DQB1 concordance between mother and child had no significant influence on perinatal HIV transmission. In addition, stratified analysis showed that DRB1*15:03+ phenotype (mother or child) significantly increases the risk of perinatal HIV-1 transmission. Without DRB1*15:03, DRB1 discordance between mother and child provided 5 fold protection (P = 0.00008, OR: 0.186, 95%CI: 0.081-0.427). However, the protective effect of DRB discordance was diminished if either the mother or the child was DRB1*15:03+ phenotype (P = 0.49-0.98, OR: 0.7-0.99, 95%CI: 0.246-2.956). DRB3+ children were less likely to be infected perinatally (P = 0.0006, Pc = 0.014; OR:0.343, 95%CI:0.183-0.642). However, there is a 4 fold increase in risk of being infected at birth if DRB3+ children were born to DRB1*15:03+ mother compared to those with DRB1*15:03- mother. Our study showed that DRB concordance/discordance, DRB1*15:03, children’s DRB3 phenotype and their interactions play an important role in perinatal HIV transmission. Identification of genetic factors associated with protection or increased risk in perinatal transmission will help develop alternative prevention and treatment methods in the event of increases in drug resistance of ARV.
PMCID: PMC4422511  PMID: 25945792
4.  Influence of HLA Class I Haplotypes on HIV-1 Seroconversion and Disease Progression in Pumwani Sex Worker Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101475.
We examined the effect of HLA class I haplotypes on HIV-1 seroconversion and disease progression in the Pumwani sex worker cohort. This study included 595 HIV-1 positive patients and 176 HIV negative individuals. HLA-A, -B, and -C were typed to 4-digit resolution using sequence-based typing method. HLA class I haplotype frequencies were estimated using PyPop 32-0.6.0. The influence of haplotypes on time to seroconversion and CD4+ T cell decline to <200 cells/mm3 were analyzed by Kaplan-Meier analysis using SPSS 13.0. Before corrections for multiple comparisons, three 2-loci haplotypes were significantly associated with faster seroconversion, including A*23∶01-C*02∶02 (p = 0.014, log rank(LR) = 6.06, false-discovery rate (FDR) = 0.056), B*42∶01-C*17∶01 (p = 0.01, LR = 6.60, FDR = 0.08) and B*07∶02-C*07∶02 (p = 0.013, LR = 6.14, FDR = 0.069). Two A*74∶01 containing haplotypes, A*74∶01-B*15∶03 (p = 0.047, LR = 3.942, FDR = 0.068) and A*74∶01-B*15∶03-C*02∶02 (p = 0.045, LR = 4.01, FDR = 0.072) and B*14∶02-C*08∶02 (p = 0.021, LR = 5.36, FDR = 0.056) were associated with slower disease progression. Five haplotypes, including A*30∶02-B*45∶01 (p = 0.0008, LR = 11.183, FDR = 0.013), A*30∶02-C*16∶01 (p = 0.015, LR = 5.97, FDR = 0.048), B*53∶01-C*04∶01 (p = 0.010, LR = 6.61, FDR = 0.08), B*15∶10-C*03∶04 (p = 0.031, LR = 4.65, FDR = 0.062), and B*58∶01-C*03∶02 (p = 0.037, LR = 4.35, FDR = 0.066) were associated with faster progression to AIDS. After FDR corrections, only the associations of A*30∶02-B*45∶01 and A*30∶02-C*16∶01 with faster disease progression remained significant. Cox regression and deconstructed Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that the associations of haplotypes of A*23∶01-C*02∶02, B*07∶02-C*07∶02, A*74∶01-B*15∶03, A*74∶01-B*15∶03-C*02∶02, B*14∶02-C*08∶02 and B*58∶01-C*03∶02 with differential seroconversion or disease progression are due to the dominant effect of a single allele within the haplotypes. The true haplotype effect was observed with A*30∶02-B*45∶01, A*30∶02-C*16∶02, B*53∶01-C*04∶01 B*15∶10-C*03∶04, and B*42∶01-C*17∶01. In these cases, the presence of both alleles accelerated the disease progression or seroconversion than any of the single allele within the haplotypes. Our study showed that the true effects of HLA class I haplotypes on HIV seroconversion and disease progression exist and the associations of HLA class I haplotype can also be due to the dominant effect of a single allele within the haplotype.
PMCID: PMC4081595  PMID: 24992306
7.  Association Study of Common Genetic Variants and HIV-1 Acquisition in 6,300 Infected Cases and 7,200 Controls 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(7):e1003515.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3723635  PMID: 23935489
8.  The Shaping of Modern Human Immune Systems by Multiregional Admixture with Archaic Humans 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2011;334(6052):89-94.
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.
PMCID: PMC3677943  PMID: 21868630
9.  A Genetic Polymorphism of FREM1 Is Associated with Resistance against HIV Infection in the Pumwani Sex Worker Cohort 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11899-11905.
A subgroup of women enrolled in the Pumwani sex worker cohort remain seronegative and PCR negative for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 despite repeated exposure through high-risk sex work. Studies have shown that polymorphisms of genes involved in antigen presentation and viral restriction factors are associated with resistance to HIV infection. To discover other possible genetic factors underlying this HIV-resistant phenotype, we conducted an exploratory nonbiased, low-resolution, genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis comparing 60 HIV-resistant women to 48 HIV-infected controls. The SNP minor allele rs1552896, in an intron of FREM1, was significantly associated with the resistant phenotype (P = 1.68 × 10−5; adjusted P = 2.37 × 10−4; odds ratio [OR], 9.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.82 to 32.05). We expanded the sample size by genotyping rs1552896 in the Pumwani cohort and comparing 114 HIV-resistant women to 609 HIV-infected controls and confirmed the association (P = 1.7 × 10−4; OR, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.47 to 4.84). To validate the association in a second cohort, we genotyped 783 women enrolled in a mother-child health study and observed the minor allele of rs1552896 enriched in HIV-uninfected women (n = 488) compared to HIV-infected enrollees (n = 295) (P = 0.036; OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 0.98 to 2.93). Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR showed that FREM1 mRNA was highly expressed in tissues relevant for HIV-1 infection, and immunohistochemical analysis revealed that FREM1 protein is expressed in the ectocervical mucosa of HIV-resistant women. The significant association of rs1552896 with an HIV-resistant phenotype, together with the expression profile of FREM1 in tissues relevant to HIV infection, suggests that FREM1 is a potentially novel candidate gene for resistance to HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3486297  PMID: 22915813
10.  HIV-1 Clade D Is Associated with Increased Rates of CD4 Decline in a Kenyan Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49797.
HIV-1 is grouped phylogenetically into clades, which may impact rates of HIV-1 disease progression. Clade D infection in particular has been shown to be more pathogenic. Here we confirm in a Nairobi-based prospective female sex worker cohort (1985–2004) that Clade D (n = 54) is associated with a more rapid CD4 decline than clade A1 (n = 150, 20.6% vs 13.4% decline per year, 1.53-fold increase, p = 0.015). This was independent of “protective” HLA and country of origin (p = 0.053), which in turn were also independent predictors of the rate of CD4 decline (p = 0.026 and 0.005, respectively). These data confirm that clade D is more pathogenic than clade A1. The precise reason for this difference is currently unclear, and requires further study. This is first study to demonstrate difference in HIV-1 disease progression between clades while controlling for protective HLA alleles.
PMCID: PMC3504142  PMID: 23185441
11.  Characterization of HIV-Specific CD4+ T Cell Responses against Peptides Selected with Broad Population and Pathogen Coverage 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39874.
CD4+ T cells orchestrate immunity against viral infections, but their importance in HIV infection remains controversial. Nevertheless, comprehensive studies have associated increase in breadth and functional characteristics of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells with decreased viral load. A major challenge for the identification of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells targeting broadly reactive epitopes in populations with diverse ethnic background stems from the vast genomic variation of HIV and the diversity of the host cellular immune system. Here, we describe a novel epitope selection strategy, PopCover, that aims to resolve this challenge, and identify a set of potential HLA class II-restricted HIV epitopes that in concert will provide optimal viral and host coverage. Using this selection strategy, we identified 64 putative epitopes (peptides) located in the Gag, Nef, Env, Pol and Tat protein regions of HIV. In total, 73% of the predicted peptides were found to induce HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses. The Gag and Nef peptides induced most responses. The vast majority of the peptides (93%) had predicted restriction to the patient’s HLA alleles. Interestingly, the viral load in viremic patients was inversely correlated to the number of targeted Gag peptides. In addition, the predicted Gag peptides were found to induce broader polyfunctional CD4+ T cell responses compared to the commonly used Gag-p55 peptide pool. These results demonstrate the power of the PopCover method for the identification of broadly recognized HLA class II-restricted epitopes. All together, selection strategies, such as PopCover, might with success be used for the evaluation of antigen-specific CD4+ T cell responses and design of future vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3390319  PMID: 22792193
12.  For Protection from HIV-1 Infection, More Might Not Be Better: a Systematic Analysis of HIV Gag Epitopes of Two Alleles Associated with Different Outcomes of HIV-1 Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(2):1166-1180.
A subset of women in the Pumwani Sex Worker Cohort, established in 1985 in Nairobi, Kenya, remains uninfected despite repeated high-risk exposure (HIV-exposed, seronegative [HESN]) through active sex work. This HESN phenotype is associated with several alleles of human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) and specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses to HIV-1. The associations of HLA alleles with differential HIV-1 infection are most likely due to their different abilities to present antigen and the different immune responses they induce. The characteristics of epitopes of HLA alleles associated with different outcomes of HIV-1 infection might therefore point to a vital clue for developing an effective vaccine. In this study, we systematically analyzed HIV-1 clade A and D Gag CD8+ T cell epitopes of two HLA class I alleles associated with different outcomes of HIV-1 infection. Binding affinity and off-rates of the identified epitopes were determined. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assays with patient peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) validated the epitopes. Epitope-specific CD8+ T cells were further phenotyped for memory markers with tetramer staining. Our study showed that the protective allele A*01:01 recognizes only three Gag epitopes. By contrast, B*07:02, the allele associated with susceptibility, binds 30 epitope variants. These two alleles differ most importantly in the spectrum of Gag epitopes they can present and not in affinity, off-rates, the location of the epitopes, or epitope-specific Tem/Tcm frequencies. The binding of more epitopes and strong IFN-gamma ELISpot responses are associated with susceptibility to HIV-1 infection, while more focused antigen recognition of multiple subtypes is protective. Rational vaccine design should take these observations into account.
PMCID: PMC3255815  PMID: 22072744
13.  Interplay between HIV-1 and Host Genetic Variation: A Snapshot into Its Impact on AIDS and Therapy Response 
Advances in Virology  2012;2012:508967.
As of February 2012, 50 circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) have been reported for HIV-1 while one CRF for HIV-2. Also according to HIV sequence compendium 2011, the HIV sequence database is replete with 414,398 sequences. The fact that there are CRFs, which are an amalgamation of sequences derived from six or more subtypes (CRF27_cpx (cpx refers to complex) is a mosaic with sequences from 6 different subtypes besides an unclassified fragment), serves as a testimony to the continual divergent evolution of the virus with its approximate 1% per year rate of evolution, and this phenomena per se poses tremendous challenge for vaccine development against HIV/AIDS, a devastating disease that has killed 1.8 million patients in 2010. Here, we explore the interaction between HIV-1 and host genetic variation in the context of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral therapy response.
PMCID: PMC3361994  PMID: 22666249
14.  Microarray Analysis of HIV Resistant Female Sex Workers Reveal a Gene Expression Signature Pattern Reminiscent of a Lowered Immune Activation State 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30048.
To identify novel biomarkers for HIV-1 resistance, including pathways that may be critical in anti-HIV-1 vaccine design, we carried out a gene expression analysis on blood samples obtained from HIV-1 highly exposed seronegatives (HESN) from a commercial sex worker cohort in Nairobi and compared their profiles to HIV-1 negative controls. Whole blood samples were collected from 43 HIV-1 resistant sex workers and a similar number of controls. Total RNA was extracted and hybridized to the Affymetrix HUG 133 Plus 2.0 micro arrays (Affymetrix, Santa Clara CA). Output data was analysed through ArrayAssist software (Agilent, San Jose CA). More than 2,274 probe sets were differentially expressed in the HESN as compared to the control group (fold change ≥1.3; p value ≤0.0001, FDR <0.05). Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of the differentially expressed genes readily distinguished HESNs from controls. Pathway analysis through the KEGG signaling database revealed a majority of the impacted pathways (13 of 15, 87%) had genes that were significantly down regulated. The most down expressed pathways were glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, pentose phosphate, phosphatidyl inositol, natural killer cell cytotoxicity and T-cell receptor signaling. Ribosomal protein synthesis and tight junction genes were up regulated. We infer that the hallmark of HIV-1 resistance is down regulation of genes in key signaling pathways that HIV-1 depends on for infection.
PMCID: PMC3266890  PMID: 22291902
15.  Bis[(1S,1′S)-1,1′-(4-amino-4H-1,2,4-triazole-3,5-di­yl)diethanol-κN 1]bis­(nitrato-κO)zinc 
In the title homochiral mononuclear compound, [Zn(NO3)2(C6H12N4O2)2], the ZnII atom is located on a twofold rotation axis and coordinated by two N atoms from two ligands and two O atoms from two NO3 − anions, adopting a distorted tetra­hedral coordination geometry. The compound is enanti­omerically pure and corresponds to the S diastereoisomer, with the optical activity originating from the chiral ligand. In the crystal, mol­ecules are connected into three-dimensional supra­molecular networks through O—H⋯O, O—H⋯N and N—H⋯O hydrogen bonds.
PMCID: PMC3274914  PMID: 22346861
16.  The role of G protein gene GNB3 C825T Polymorphism in HIV-1 acquisition, progression and immune activation 
Retrovirology  2012;9:1.
The GNB3 C825T polymorphism is associated with increased G protein-mediated signal transduction, SDF-1α-mediated lymphocyte chemotaxis, accelerated HIV-1 progression, and altered responses to antiretroviral therapy among Caucasian subjects. The GNB3 825T allele is highly prevalent in African populations, and as such any impact on HIV-1 acquisition or progression rates could have a dramatic impact. This study examines the association of the 825T polymorphism with HIV-1 acquisition, disease progression and immune activation in two African cohorts. GNB3 825 genotyping was performed for enrolees in both a commercial sex worker cohort and a perinatal HIV transmission (PHT) cohort in Nairobi, Kenya. Ex vivo immune activation was quantified by flow cytometry, and plasma chemokine levels were assessed by cytokine bead array.
GNB3 genotype was not associated with sexual or vertical HIV-1 acquisition within these cohorts. Within the Pumwani cohort, GNB3 genotype did not affect HIV-1 disease progression among seroconverters or among HIV-1-positive individuals after adjustment for baseline CD4 count. Maternal CD4 decline and viral load increase in the PHT cohort did not differ between genotypes. Multi-parametric flow cytometry assessment of T cell activation (CD69, HLA-DR, CD38) and Treg frequency (CD25+FOXP3+) found no differences between genotype groups. Plasma SDF-1α, MIP-1β and TRAIL levels quantified by cytokine bead array were also similar between groups.
In contrast to previous reports, we were unable to provide evidence to suggest that the GNB3 C825T polymorphism affects HIV-1 acquisition or disease progression within African populations. Ex vivo immune activation and plasma chemokine levels were similarly unaffected by GNB3 genotype in both HIV-1-negative and HIV-1-positive individuals. The paucity of studies investigating the impact of GNB3 polymorphism among African populations and the lack of mechanistic studies make it difficult to assess the true biological significance of this polymorphism in HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3278356  PMID: 22214232
GNB3; HIV progression; G protein; HIV acquisition; Immune Activation
17.  Enrichment of Variations in KIR3DL1/S1 and KIR2DL2/L3 among H1N1/09 ICU Patients: An Exploratory Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29200.
Infection by the pandemic influenza A (H1N1/09) virus resulted in significant pathology among specific ethnic groups worldwide. Natural Killer (NK) cells are important in early innate immune responses to viral infections. Activation of NK cells, in part, depend on killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and HLA class I ligand interactions. To study factors involved in NK cell dysfunction in overactive immune responses to H1N1 infection, KIR3DL1/S1 and KIR2DL2/L3 allotypes and cognate HLA ligands of H1N1/09 intensive-care unit (ICU) patients were determined.
Methodology and Findings
KIR3DL1/S1, KIR2DL2/L3, and HLA -B and -C of 51 H1N1/09 ICU patients and 105 H1N1-negative subjects (St. Theresa Point, Manitoba) were characterized. We detected an increase of 3DL1 ligand-negative pairs (3DL1/S1+ Bw6+ Bw4−), and a lack of 2DL1 HLA-C2 ligands, among ICU patients. They were also significantly enriched for 2DL2/L3 ligand-positive pairs (P<0.001, Pc<0.001; Odds Ratio:6.3158, CI95%:2.481–16.078). Relative to St. Theresa aboriginals (STh) and Venezuelan Amerindians (VA), allotypes enriched among aboriginal ICU patients (Ab) were: 2DL3 (Ab>VA, P = 0.024, Pc = 0.047; Odds Ratio:2.563, CI95%:1.109–5.923), 3DL1*00101 (Ab>VA, P<0.001, Pc<0.001), 3DL1*01502 (Ab>STh, P = 0.034, Pc = 0.268), and 3DL1*029 (Ab>STh, P  = 0.039, Pc = 0.301). Aboriginal patients ligand-positive for 3DL1/S1 and 2DL1 had the lowest probabilities of death (Rd) (Rd = 28%), compared to patients that were 3DL1/S1 ligand-negative (Rd = 52%) or carried 3DL1*029 (Rd = 52%). Relative to Caucasoids (CA), two allotypes were enriched among non-aboriginal ICU patients (NAb): 3DL1*00401 (NAb>CA, P<0.001, Pc<0.001) and 3DL1*01502 (CA
Specific KIR3DL1/S1 allotypes, 3DL1/S1 and 2DL1 ligand-negative pairs, and 2DL2/L3 ligand-positive pairs were enriched among ICU patients. This suggests a possible association with NK cell dysfunction in patients with overactive immune responses to H1N1/09, leading to severe disease.
PMCID: PMC3247251  PMID: 22216211
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26745.
Pyrosequencing technology has the potential to rapidly sequence HIV-1 viral quasispecies without requiring the traditional approach of cloning. In this study, we investigated the utility of ultra-deep pyrosequencing to characterize genetic diversity of the HIV-1 gag quasispecies and assessed the possible contribution of pyrosequencing technology in studying HIV-1 biology and evolution.
Methodology/Principal Findings
HIV-1 gag gene was amplified from 96 patients using nested PCR. The PCR products were cloned and sequenced using capillary based Sanger fluorescent dideoxy termination sequencing. The same PCR products were also directly sequenced using the 454 pyrosequencing technology. The two sequencing methods were evaluated for their ability to characterize quasispecies variation, and to reveal sites under host immune pressure for their putative functional significance. A total of 14,034 variations were identified by 454 pyrosequencing versus 3,632 variations by Sanger clone-based (SCB) sequencing. 11,050 of these variations were detected only by pyrosequencing. These undetected variations were located in the HIV-1 Gag region which is known to contain putative cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) and neutralizing antibody epitopes, and sites related to virus assembly and packaging. Analysis of the positively selected sites derived by the two sequencing methods identified several differences. All of them were located within the CTL epitope regions.
Ultra-deep pyrosequencing has proven to be a powerful tool for characterization of HIV-1 genetic diversity with enhanced sensitivity, efficiency, and accuracy. It also improved reliability of downstream evolutionary and functional analysis of HIV-1 quasispecies.
PMCID: PMC3198814  PMID: 22039546
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22948.
West Nile virus (WNV) infection is asymptomatic in most individuals, with a minority developing symptoms ranging from WNV fever to serious neuroinvasive disease. This study investigated the impact of host HLA on the outcome of WNV disease.
A cohort of 210 non-Hispanic mostly white WNV+ subjects from Canada and the U.S. were typed for HLA-A, B, C, DP, DQ, and DR. The study subjects were divided into three WNV infection outcome groups: asymptomatic (AS), symptomatic (S), and neuroinvasive disease (ND). Allele frequency distribution was compared pair-wise between the AS, S, and ND groups using χ2 and Fisher's exact tests and P values were corrected for multiple comparisons (Pc). Allele frequencies were compared between the groups and the North American population (NA) used as a control group. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the potential synergistic effect of age and HLA allele phenotype on disease outcome.
The alleles HLA-A*68, C*08 and DQB*05 were more frequently associated with severe outcomes (ND vs. AS, PA*68 = 0.013/Pc = 0.26, PC*08 = 0.0075/Pc = 0.064, and PDQB1*05 = 0.029/Pc = 0.68), However the apparent DQB1*05 association was driven by age. The alleles HLA-B*40 and C*03 were more frequently associated with asymptomatic outcome (AS vs. S, PB*40 = 0.021/Pc = 0.58 and AS vs. ND PC*03 = 0.039/Pc = 0.64) and their frequencies were lower within WNV+ subjects with neuroinvasive disease than within the North American population (NA vs. S, PB*40 = 0.029 and NA vs. ND, PC*03 = 0.032).
Host HLA may be associated with the outcome of WNV disease; HLA-A*68 and C*08 might function as “susceptible” alleles, whereas HLA-B*40 and C*03 might function as “protective” alleles.
PMCID: PMC3148246  PMID: 21829673
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(12):1813-1821.
The innate immune component TRIM5α has the ability to restrict retrovirus infection in a species-specific manner. TRIM5α of some primate species restricts infection by HIV-1, while huTRIM5α lacks this specificity. Previous studies have suggested that certain polymorphisms in huTRIM5 may enhance or impair the proteins affinity for HIV-1. This study investigates the role of TRIM5 polymorphisms in resistance/susceptibility to HIV-1 within the Pumwani sex worker cohort in Nairobi, Kenya. A group of women within this cohort remain HIV-1 seronegative and PCR negative despite repeated exposure to HIV-1 through active sex work.
A 1 kb fragment of Trim5alpha gene, including exon 2, from 1032 women enrolled in the Pumwani sex worker cohort was amplified and sequenced. SNPs and haplotypes were compared between HIV-1 positive and resistant women.
The TRIM5 exon 2 genomic fragment was amplified, sequenced and genotyped. Pypop32-0.6.0 was used to determine SNP and haplotype frequencies and statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS-13.0 for windows.
A TRIM5 SNP (rs10838525) resulting in the amino acid change from Arginine to Glutamine at codon 136, was enriched in HIV-1 resistant individuals (p=1.104E-05; OR:2.991; CI95%:1.806–4.953) and women with 136Q were less likely to seroconvert (p=0.002; Log Rank: 12.799). Wild type TRIM5α exon 2 was associated with susceptibility to HIV-1 (p=0.006; OR:0.279; 95%CI:0.105–0.740) and rapid seroconversion (p=0.001; Log Rank: 14.475).
Our findings suggest that a shift from arginine to glutamine at codon 136 in the coiled-coil region of TRIM5α confers protection against HIV-1 in the Pumwani sex worker cohort.
PMCID: PMC2921035  PMID: 20588169
TRIM5α; Single nucleotide polymorphism; HIV-1; Sex Workers; Taxonomy-based Sequence Analysis; Disease Association; Disease Resistance
Journal of immunological methods  2009;352(1-2):118-125.
Identification of CTL epitopes correlated to immune protection is important for the development of vaccines that enhance T cell-mediated immune responses. The correlation of positively selected amino acids (PS) of HIV-1 with host HLA alleles can identify regions containing potential T cell epitopes. However, the specific epitopes have to be identified and characterized using overlapping peptides through T cell functional assays. In this study we used a new approach to identify and characterize potential epitopes in the gag region containing PS mutations that significantly correlated with HLA-A*0301. The iTopia Epitope Discovery System was used to rapidly screen a panel of peptides overlapping the regions containing PS mutations and the peptides identified were assessed for relative affinity and complex stability. The potential epitopes were then validated by interferon gamma (IFN-γ) ELISpot assays with patient PBMCs. Using this approach we identified/confirmed the predicted HLA-A*0301 epitopes in two regions of gag containing PS mutations V7I and K403R, one previously reported and the other novel. Five of the seven peptides that bound to A*0301 contained the K403R mutation and corresponded to the documented LARNCRAPRK-A3 supertype epitope. Two epitope variants, RASVLSGGK and RASILSGGK containing the V7I mutation, were identified using the iTopia Epitope Discovery System, however only the consensus variant (RAK9C) was confirmed using the ELISpot assay and it represents a novel A*0301 epitope.
PMCID: PMC2836169  PMID: 19903485
HIV-1; T-cell Epitopes; iTopia Epitope Discovery System; Gag
Virology Journal  2010;7:343.
Design of effective vaccines against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) continues to present formidable challenges. However, individuals who are exposed HIV-1 but do not get infected may reveal correlates of protection that may inform on effective vaccine design. A preliminary gene expression analysis of HIV resistant female sex workers (HIV-R) suggested a high expression CD26/DPPIV gene. Previous studies have indicated an anti-HIV effect of high CD26/DPPIV expressing cells in vitro. Similarly, high CD26/DPPIV protein levels in vivo have been shown to be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. We carried out a study to confirm if the high CD26/DPPIV gene expression among the HIV-R were concordant with high blood protein levels and its correlation with clinical type 2 diabetes and other perturbations in the insulin signaling pathway.
A quantitative CD26/DPPIV plasma analysis from 100 HIV-R, 100 HIV infected (HIV +) and 100 HIV negative controls (HIV Neg) showed a significantly elevated CD26/DPPIV concentration among the HIV-R group (mean 1315 ng/ml) than the HIV Neg (910 ng/ml) and HIV + (870 ng/ml, p < 0.001). Similarly a FACs analysis of cell associated DPPIV (CD26) revealed a higher CD26/DPPIV expression on CD4+ T-cells derived from HIV-R than from the HIV+ (90.30% vs 80.90 p = 0.002) and HIV Neg controls (90.30% vs 82.30 p < 0.001) respectively. A further comparison of the mean fluorescent intensity (MFI) of CD26/DPPIV expression showed a higher DPP4 MFI on HIV-R CD4+ T cells (median 118 vs 91 for HIV-Neg, p = 0.0003). An evaluation for hyperglycemia, did not confirm Type 2 diabetes but an impaired fasting glucose condition (5.775 mmol/L). A follow-up quantitative PCR analysis of the insulin signaling pathway genes showed a down expression of NFκB, a central mediator of the immune response and activator of HIV-1 transcription.
HIV resistant sex workers have a high expression of CD26/DPPIV in tandem with lowered immune activation markers. This may suggest a novel role for CD26/DPPIV in protection against HIV infection in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3009705  PMID: 21108831
Journal of Virology  2009;83(23):12636-12642.
HLA-B*57-mediated selection pressure leads to a typical escape pathway in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) CD8 epitopes such as TW10. Whether this T242N pathway is shared by all clades remains unknown. We therefore assessed the nature of HLA-B*57 selection in a large, observational Kenyan cohort where clades A1 and D predominate. While T242N was ubiquitous in clade D HLA-B*57+ subjects, this mutation was rare (15%) in clade A1. Instead, P243T and I247L were selected by clade A1-infected HLA-B*57 subjects but not by HLA-B*5801+ subjects. Our data suggest that clade A1 consensus proline at Gag residue 243 might represent an inherent block to T242N escape in clade A1. We confirmed immunologically that P243T and I247L likely represent escape mutations. HLA-B*57 evolution also differed between clades in the KF11 and IW9 epitopes. A better understanding of clade-specific evolution is important for the development of HIV vaccines in regions with multiple clades.
PMCID: PMC2786721  PMID: 19759140
AIDS (London, England)  2009;27(7):771-777.
The p1 region of HIV-1 gag contains the frameshift stem-loop, gag–pol transframe and a protease cleavage site that are crucial for viral assembly, replication and infectivity. Identifying and characterizing CD8+ epitopes that are under host immune selection in this region will help in designing effective vaccines for HIV-1.
An approach combining bioinformatical analysis and interferon gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assays is used to identify and characterize the epitopes. Potential human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted epitopes were identified by correlating the positively selected mutations with host HLA alleles.
ELISPOT analysis with overlapping peptides was used to confirm and characterize the epitopes.
Four positively selected residues were significantly associated with HLA class I alleles, including HLA B*1302 (K4R, P=0.0008 and I5L, P=0.0108), A*7401 (S9N, P=0.0002) and A*30 genotypes (P7S, P=0.009), suggesting epitopes restricted by these alleles are present in this region. ELISPOT analysis with patient peripheral blood mononuclear cells identified 7 novel epitopes restricted by the 3 alleles. Two types of epitopes were observed in this region based on the ELISPOT responses, Type I: the positively selected variation does not affect CD8+ T-cell responses; and Type II: the CD8+ T-cell responses are determined by the epitope variants.
We identified and characterized seven novel CD8+ epitopes in the p1 spacer protein region. Classifying the effects of positively selected variants on CD8+ T-cell responses will help in designing effective vaccines for HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC2734095  PMID: 19287301
epitope; Gag; HIV-1; human leukocyte antigens; p1
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(1):125-130.
HIV prevalence has recently declined in several African countries, and prior to this the risk of HIV acquisition per unprotected sex contact also declined in Kenyan sex workers. We hypothesized that heterogeneity in HIV host susceptibility might underpin both of these observations.
A compartmental mathematical model was used to explore the potential impact of heterogeneity in susceptibility to HIV infection on epidemic behavior, in the absence of other causative mechanisms.
Studies indicated that a substantial heterogeneity in susceptibility to HIV infection,, may lead to an epidemic that peaks and then declines due to a depletion of the most susceptible individuals, even without changes in sexual behavior. This effect was most notable in high-risk groups such as female sex workers, and was consistent with empirical data.
Declines in HIV prevalence may have other causes in addition to behavior change, including heterogeneity in host HIV susceptibility. There is a need to further study this heterogeneity and its correlates, particularly as it confounds the ability to attribute HIV epidemic shifts to specific interventions, including behavior change.
PMCID: PMC2764323  PMID: 19050394
Modeling; epidemiology; heterogeneity in host susceptibility; HIV transmission

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