Greater CD8+ TCR heterogeneity and functional flexibility in HIV-2 compared to HIV-1 infection.
Lopes AR., Jaye A., Dorrell L., Sabally S., Alabi A., Jones NA., Flower DR., De Groot A., Newton P., Lascar RM., Williams I., Whittle H., Bertoletti A., Borrow P., Maini MK.
Virus-specific CD8(+) T cells are known to play an important role in the control of HIV infection. In this study we investigated whether there may be qualitative differences in the CD8(+) T cell response in HIV-1- and HIV-2-infected individuals that contribute to the relatively efficient control of the latter infection. A molecular comparison of global TCR heterogeneity showed a more oligoclonal pattern of CD8 cells in HIV-1- than HIV-2-infected patients. This was reflected in restricted and conserved TCR usage by CD8(+) T cells recognizing individual HLA-A2- and HLA-B57-restricted viral epitopes in HIV-1, with limited plasticity in their response to amino acid substitutions within these epitopes. The more diverse TCR usage observed for HIV-2-specific CD8(+) T cells was associated with an enhanced potential for CD8 expansion and IFN-gamma production on cross-recognition of variant epitopes. Our data suggest a mechanism that could account for any possible cross-protection that may be mediated by HIV-2-specific CD8(+) T cells against HIV-1 infection. Furthermore, they have implications for HIV vaccine development, demonstrating an association between a polyclonal, virus-specific CD8(+) T cell response and an enhanced capacity to tolerate substitutions within T cell epitopes.