Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19644347
AIDS 2009 Sep;23(15):1945-54
OBJECTIVE: To design a vaccine construct containing various but conserved HIV-1-derived epitopes and generating broad CD8 T cell responses.
METHODS: HLA-B7 transgenic H-2KD KO transgenic mice were used to identify potential new HLA-B07.02-restricted HIV-1-derived epitopes. Immunological recognition of these epitopes was confirmed by IFN-gamma ELISpot assays with PBMCs from HLA-B*0702 HIV-1-infected individuals. For these peptides as well as others previously identified, the capacity to induce cross-reactive responses against their frequent allelic variants was evaluated in the mouse model. A set of epitopes inducing strong T cell responses against various and conserved regions of HIV-1 was selected. A DNA vaccine was designed to express them as a unique antigen with or without a three amino acid ARY extension flanking each epitope. The spectrum of CD8 T responses generated by polyepitope constructs was tested in HLA-B7 transgenic mice.
RESULTS: Five new epitopes were identified in accessory and regulatory HIV-1 proteins. Twelve HLA-B07.02-restricted epitopes were selected on the basis of their structural conservation and cross-reactive immunogenicity. The ARY N-terminal extension flanking each epitope markedly increases their affinity for TAP and the use of this flanking extension in polyepitope vaccine has a sizable advantage to induce CD8 T cell cytotoxic responses in mice following DNA immunization.
CONCLUSION: The HLA-B7 mouse model allows to rapidly identify various HIV-1-derived epitopes of vaccine interest. Grouped in a polyepitope construct designed to increase their processing, this vaccine may be suitable for inducing multiple and relevant HIV-1-specific CTL responses in humans.