Cross-Reactive CD8+ T Cell Epitopes Identified in US Adolescent Minorities

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Abstract

Vaccines designed to bring forth CD8+ T cell responses in different racial and ethnic groups will require inclusion of T cell epitopes presented by various MHC class I molecules. This study was designed to identify new CD8+ T cell epitopes in HIV-infected African American and Hispanic youth as well as to determine the frequency of responses to both novel and previously described HIV-1 epitopes in a cohort of racially and ethnically diverse individuals. We found 8 MHC class I-restricted CD8+ T cell epitopes that had not been previously described, another 8 epitopes that were restricted by class I alleles not previously associated with these epitopes, and 8 additional epitopes that have been described previously. In a larger cohort, we demonstrated that 11 (69%) of these 16 newly described immunogens were recognized by individuals of different race or ethnicity. Most HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell epitopes identified were either novel or restricted by alternative MHC class I alleles. Frequent recognition of several of these CTL epitopes in persons of diverse racial backgrounds bodes well for the development of a broadly reactive HIV-1 vaccine.

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