Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Increasing evidence indicates that potent anti-HIV-1 activity is mediated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs); however, the effects of this immune pressure on viral transmission and evolution have not been determined. Here we investigate mother-child transmission in the setting of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B27 expression, selected for analysis because it is associated with prolonged immune containment in adult infection. In adults, mutations in a dominant and highly conserved B27-restricted Gag CTL epitope lead to loss of recognition and disease progression. In mothers expressing HLA-B27 who transmit HIV-1 perinatally, we document transmission of viruses encoding CTL escape variants in this dominant Gag epitope that no longer bind to B27. Their infected infants target an otherwise subdominant B27-restricted epitope and fail to contain HIV replication. These CTL escape variants remain stable without reversion in the absence of the evolutionary pressure that originally selected the mutation. These data suggest that CTL escape mutations in epitopes associated with suppression of viraemia will accumulate as the epidemic progresses, and therefore have important implications for vaccine design.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





334 - 338


Adult, Child, DNA, Viral, Disease Progression, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, HLA-B27 Antigen, Histocompatibility Testing, Humans, Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical, Mutation, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic