Characterization of cross-reactive CD8+ T-cell recognition of HLA-A2-restricted HIV-Gag (SLYNTVATL) and HCV-NS5b (ALYDVVSKL) epitopes in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency and hepatitis C viruses

J Virol. 2011 Jan;85(1):254-63. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01743-10. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Abstract

The immunologic mechanisms underlying the faster progression of hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease in the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection are not clearly understood. T-cell cross-reactivity between HCV and influenza virus-specific epitopes has been associated with rapid progression of HCV disease (S. Urbani, B. Amadei, P. Fisicaro, M. Pilli, G. Missale, A. Bertoletti, and C. Ferrari, J. Exp. Med. 201:675-680, 2005). We asked whether T-cell cross-reactivity between HCV and HIV could exist during HCV/HIV coinfection and affect pathogenesis. Our search for amino acid sequence homology between the HCV and HIV proteomes revealed two similar HLA-A2-restricted epitopes, HIV-Gag (SLYNTVATL [HIV-SL9]) and HCV-NS5b (ALYDVVSKL [HCV-AL9]). We found that 4 out of 20 HLA-A2-positive (HLA-A2(+)) HIV-infected individuals had CD8(+) T cells that recognized both the HIV-SL9 and HCV-AL9 epitopes. However, the AL9 epitope was generally shown to be a weak agonist. Although HCV-monoinfected individuals in our study did not show AL9-specific responses, we found that about half of HCV/HIV-coinfected individuals had dual responses to both epitopes. High dual T-cell recognition among coinfected subjects was usually due to separate T-cell populations targeting each epitope, as determined by pentamer staining. The one individual demonstrating cross-reactive T cells to both epitopes showed the most advanced degree of liver disease. In coinfected individuals, we observed a positive correlation between the magnitudes of T-cell responses to both the SL9 and the AL9 epitopes, which was also positively associated with the clinical parameter of liver damage. Thus, we find that HIV infection induces T cells that can cross-react to heterologous viruses or prime for T cells that are closely related in sequence. However, the induction of cross-reactive T cells may not be associated with control of disease caused by the heterologous virus. This demonstrates that degeneracy of HIV-specific T cells may play a role in the immunopathology of HCV/HIV coinfection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / chemistry
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Gene Products, gag / chemistry
  • Gene Products, gag / genetics
  • Gene Products, gag / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / immunology*

Substances

  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Gene Products, gag
  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • NS-5 protein, hepatitis C virus
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins