Despite progress toward understanding the correlates of protective T cell immunity in HIV infection, the optimal approach to Ag delivery by vaccination remains uncertain. We characterized two immunodominant CD8 T cell populations generated in response to immunization of BALB/c mice with a replication-deficient adenovirus serotype 5 vector expressing the HIV-derived Gag and Pol proteins at equivalent levels. The Gag-AI9/H-2K(d) epitope elicited high-avidity CD8 T cell populations with architecturally diverse clonotypic repertoires that displayed potent lytic activity in vivo. In contrast, the Pol-LI9/H-2D(d) epitope elicited motif-constrained CD8 T cell repertoires that displayed lower levels of physical avidity and lytic activity despite equivalent measures of overall clonality. Although low-dose vaccination enhanced the functional profiles of both epitope-specific CD8 T cell populations, greater polyfunctionality was apparent within the Pol-LI9/H-2D(d) specificity. Higher proportions of central memory-like cells were present after low-dose vaccination and at later time points. However, there were no noteworthy phenotypic differences between epitope-specific CD8 T cell populations across vaccine doses or time points. Collectively, these data indicate that the functional and phenotypic properties of vaccine-induced CD8 T cell populations are sensitive to dose manipulation, yet constrained by epitope specificity in a clonotype-dependent manner.
Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.