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1.  Frequent and Strong Antibody-Mediated Natural Killer Cell Activation in Response to HIV-1 Env in Individuals with Chronic HIV-1 Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(12):6986-6993.
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.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00569-12
PMCID: PMC3393568  PMID: 22496218
2.  Short Communication: CD8+ T Cell Polyfunctionality Profiles in Progressive and Nonprogressive Pediatric HIV Type 1 Infection 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(9):1005-1012.
Abstract
Pediatric HIV-1 infection is characterized by rapid disease progression and without antiretroviral therapy (ART), more than 50% of infected children die by the age of 2 years. However, a small subset of infected children progresses slowly to disease in the absence of ART. This study aimed to identify functional characteristics of HIV-1-specific T cell responses that distinguish children with rapid and slow disease progression. Fifteen perinatally HIV-infected children (eight rapid and seven slow progressors) were longitudinally studied to monitor T cell polyfunctionality. HIV-1-specific interferon (IFN)-γ+ CD8+ T cell responses gradually increased over time but did not differ between slow and rapid progressors. However, polyfunctional HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses, as assessed by the expression of four functions (IFN-γ, CD107a, TNF-α, MIP-1β), were higher in slow compared to rapid progressors (p=0.05) early in infection, and was associated with slower subsequent disease progression. These data suggest that the quality of the HIV-specific CD8+ T cell response is associated with the control of disease in children as has been shown in adult infection.
doi:10.1089/aid.2010.0227
PMCID: PMC3332389  PMID: 21288139
3.  Immunodominant HIV-1-specific HLA-B- and HLA-C-restricted CD8+ T cells do not differ in polyfunctionality 
Virology  2010;405(2-3):483-491.
HIV-1 specific HLA-B-restricted CD8+ T cell responses differ from HLA-C-restricted responses in antiviral effectiveness. To investigate possible reasons for these differences, we characterized the frequency and polyfunctionality of immmunodominant HLA-B*57/B5801- and HLA-Cw*07-restricted CD8+ T cells occurring concurrently in nine study subjects assessing IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, MIP-1β, and CD107a by flow cytometry and analyzed sequence variation in targeted epitopes. HLA-B*57/5801 and HLA-Cw*07 restricted CD8+ T cells did not differ significantly in polyfunctionality (p = 0.84). Possession of three or more functions correlated positively with CD4+ T cell counts (r = 0.85; p = 0.006) and monofunctional CD8+ T cells inversely correlated with CD4 cell counts (r = −0.79; p = 0.05). There were no differences in polyfunctionality of CD8+ T cells specific to wildtype versus mutated epitopes. These results suggest that loss of polyfunctionality and increase in monofunctional HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cells are associated with disease progression independent of restricting HLA allele. Furthermore, sequence variation does not appear to significantly impact CD8+ T cell polyfunctionality in chronic HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2010.06.002
PMCID: PMC2954365  PMID: 20638093
HLA-B*57/5801; HLA-C; HIV-1 chronic infection; CD8+ T cells; Polyfunctionality
4.  Impact of HLA in Mother and Child on Disease Progression of Pediatric Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(19):10234-10244.
A broad Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell response is associated with effective control of adult human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The association of certain HLA class I molecules, such as HLA-B*57, -B*5801, and -B*8101, with immune control is linked to mutations within Gag epitopes presented by these alleles that allow HIV to evade the immune response but that also reduce viral replicative capacity. Transmission of such viruses containing mutations within Gag epitopes results in lower viral loads in adult recipients. In this study of pediatric infection, we tested the hypothesis that children may tend to progress relatively slowly if either they themselves possess one of the protective HLA-B alleles or the mother possesses one of these alleles, thereby transmitting a low-fitness virus to the child. We analyzed HLA type, CD8+ T-cell responses, and viral sequence changes for 61 mother-child pairs from Durban, South Africa, who were monitored from birth. Slow progression was significantly associated with the mother or child possessing one of the protective HLA-B alleles, and more significantly so when the protective allele was not shared by mother and child (P = 0.007). Slow progressors tended to make CD8+ T-cell responses to Gag epitopes presented by the protective HLA-B alleles, in contrast to progressors expressing the same alleles (P = 0.07; Fisher's exact test). Mothers expressing the protective alleles were significantly more likely to transmit escape variants within the Gag epitopes presented by those alleles than mothers not expressing those alleles (75% versus 21%; P = 0.001). Reversion of transmitted escape mutations was observed in all slow-progressing children whose mothers possessed protective HLA-B alleles. These data show that HLA class I alleles influence disease progression in pediatric as well as adult infection, both as a result of the CD8+ T-cell responses generated in the child and through the transmission of low-fitness viruses by the mother.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00921-09
PMCID: PMC2748050  PMID: 19605475
5.  Immunodominant HIV-1 Cd4+ T Cell Epitopes in Chronic Untreated Clade C HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5013.
Background
A dominance of Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses is significantly associated with a lower viral load in individuals with chronic, untreated clade C human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. This association has not been investigated in terms of Gag-specific CD4+ T cell responses, nor have clade C HIV-1–specific CD4+ T cell epitopes, likely a vital component of an effective global HIV-1 vaccine, been identified.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Intracellular cytokine staining was conducted on 373 subjects with chronic, untreated clade C infection to assess interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) responses by CD4+ T cells to pooled Gag peptides and to determine their association with viral load and CD4 count. Gag-specific IFN-γ–producing CD4+ T cell responses were detected in 261/373 (70%) subjects, with the Gag responders having a significantly lower viral load and higher CD4 count than those with no detectable Gag response (p<0.0001 for both parameters). To identify individual peptides targeted by HIV-1–specific CD4+ T cells, separate ELISPOT screening was conducted on CD8-depleted PBMCs from 32 chronically infected untreated subjects, using pools of overlapping peptides that spanned the entire HIV-1 clade C consensus sequence, and reconfirmed by flow cytometry to be CD4+ mediated. The ELISPOT screening identified 33 CD4+ peptides targeted by 18/32 patients (56%), with 27 of the 33 peptides located in the Gag region. Although the breadth of the CD4+ responses correlated inversely with viral load (p = 0.015), the magnitude of the response was not significantly associated with viral load.
Conclusions/Significance
These data indicate that in chronic untreated clade C HIV-1 infection, IFN-γ–secreting Gag-specific CD4+ T cell responses are immunodominant, directed at multiple distinct epitopes, and associated with viral control.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005013
PMCID: PMC2661367  PMID: 19352428
6.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Specific CD8+ T-Cell Activity Is Detectable from Birth in the Majority of In Utero-Infected Infants▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(23):12775-12784.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected infants in sub-Saharan Africa typically progress to AIDS or death by 2 years of life in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. This rapid progression to HIV disease has been related to immaturity of the adaptive immune response in infants. We screened 740 infants born to HIV-infected mothers and tracked development and specificity of HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses in 63 HIV-infected infants identified using gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assays and intracellular cytokine staining. Forty-four in utero-infected and 19 intrapartum-infected infants were compared to 45 chronically infected children >2 years of age. Seventy percent (14 of 20) in utero-infected infants tested within the first week of life demonstrated HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses. Gag, Pol, and Nef were the principally targeted regions in chronic pediatric infection. However, Env dominated the overall response in one-third (12/36) of the acutely infected infants, compared to only 2/45 (4%) of chronically infected children (P = 0.00083). Gag-specific CD4+ T-cell responses were minimal to undetectable in the first 6 months of pediatric infection. These data indicate that failure to control HIV replication in in utero-infected infants is not due to an inability to induce responses but instead suggest secondary failure of adaptive immunity in containing this infection. Moreover, the detection of virus-specific CD8+ T-cell responses in the first days of life in most in utero-infected infants is encouraging for HIV vaccine interventions in infants.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00624-07
PMCID: PMC2169079  PMID: 17881456

Results 1-6 (6)