Article

Strong human endogenous retrovirus-specific T cell responses are associated with control of HIV-1 in chronic infection.

UCSF Division of Experimental Medicine, Building 3, Room 603, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 07/2011; 85(14):6977-85. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00179-11
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Eight percent of the human genome is composed of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), which are thought to be inactive remnants of ancient infections. Previously, we showed that individuals with early HIV-1 infection have stronger anti-HERV T cell responses than uninfected controls. In this study, we investigated whether these responses persist in chronic HIV-1 infection and whether they have a role in the control of HIV-1. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 88 subjects diagnosed with HIV-1 infection for at least 1 year (median duration of diagnosis, 13 years) were tested for responses against HERV peptides in gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme immunospot (ELISPOT) assays. Individuals who control HIV-1 viremia without highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) had stronger and broader HERV-specific T cell responses than HAART-suppressed patients, virologic noncontrollers, immunologic progressors, and uninfected controls (P < 0.05 for each pairwise comparison). In addition, the magnitude of the anti-HERV T cell response was inversely correlated with HIV-1 viral load (r(2) = 0.197, P = 0.0002) and associated with higher CD4(+) T cell counts (r(2) = 0.072, P = 0.027) in untreated patients. Flow cytometric analyses of an HLA-B51-restricted CD8(+) HERV response in one HIV-1-infected individual revealed a less activated and more differentiated phenotype than that stimulated by a homologous HIV-1 peptide. HLA-B51 tetramer dual staining within this individual confirmed two different T cell populations corresponding to these HERV and HIV-1 epitopes, ruling out cross-reactivity. These findings suggest a possible role for anti-HERV immunity in the control of chronic HIV-1 infection and provide support for a larger effort to design an HIV-1 vaccine that targets conserved antigens such as HERV.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
94 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are remnants of ancestral infections and chromosomally integrated in all cells of an individual, are transmitted only vertically and are defective in viral replication. However enhanced expression of HERV-K accompanied by the emergence of anti-HERV-K-directed immune responses has been observed inter-alia in HIV-infected individuals and tumor patients. Therefore HERV-K might serve as a tumor-specific antigen or even as a constant target for the development of an HIV vaccine. To verify our hypothesis, we tested the immunogenicity of HERV-K Gag by using a recombinant vaccinia virus (MVA-HKcon) expressing the HERV-K Gag protein and established an animal model to test its vaccination efficacy. Murine renal carcinoma cells (Renca) were genetically altered to express E. coli beta-galactosidase (RLZ cells) and the HERV-K Gag protein (RLZ-HKGag cells). Subcutaneous application of RLZ-HKGag cells into syngenic BALB/c mice resulted in the formation of local tumors in MVA vaccinated mice. MVA-HKcon vaccination reduced the tumor growth. Furthermore, intravenous injection of RLZ-HKGag cells led to the formation of pulmonary metastases. Vaccination of tumor-bearing mice with MVA-HKcon drastically reduced the number of pulmonary RLZ-HKGag tumor nodules compared to vaccination with wild-type MVA. The data demonstrate that HERV-K Gag is a useful target for vaccine development and might offer new treatment opportunities for cancer patients. .
    Virology Journal 03/2014; 11(1):58. · 2.09 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) comprise about 8% of the human genome and have lost their ability to replicate or to produce infectious particles after having accumulated mutations over time. We assessed the kinetics of expression of HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope mRNA transcript and surface unit (SU) and transmembrane (TM) subunit proteins during HIV-1 infection. We also mapped the specificity of the humoral response to HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope protein in HIV-1 infected subjects at different stages of disease, and correlated the response with plasma viral load. We found that HIV-1 modified HERV-K (HML-2) Env mRNA expression, resulting in the expression of a fully N-glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein on the cell surface. Serological mapping of HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein linear epitopes revealed two major immunogenic domains, one on SU and another on the ectodomain of TM. The titers of HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies were dramatically increased in HIV-1 infected subjects (p < 0.0001). HIV-1 infected adults who control HIV-1 in the absence of therapy ("elite" controllers) had a higher titer response against TM compared to antiretroviral-treated adults (p < 0.0001) and uninfected adults (p < 0.0001). These data collectively suggest that HIV-1 infection induces fully glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein to which antibodies are induced. These anti-HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies are a potential marker of HIV-1 infection, and are at higher titer in elite controllers. HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein may be a new therapeutic target in HIV-1 infection.
    Retrovirology 01/2014; 11(1):10. · 5.66 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The enormous sequence diversity of HIV remains a major roadblock to the development of a prophylactic vaccine and new approaches to induce protective immunity are needed. Endogenous retrotransposable elements (ERE) such as endogenous retrovirus K (ERV)-K and long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) are activated during HIV-1-infection and could represent stable, surrogate targets to eliminate HIV-1-infected cells. Here, we explored the hypothesis that vaccination against ERE would protect macaques from acquisition and replication of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Following vaccination with antigens derived from LINE-1 and ERV-K consensus sequences, animals mounted immune responses that failed to delay acquisition of SIVsmE660. We observed no differences in acute or set point viral loads between ERE-vaccinated and control animals suggesting that ERE-specific responses were not protective. Indeed, ERE-specific T cells failed to expand anamnestically in vivo following infection with SIVsmE660 and did not recognize SIV-infected targets in vitro, in agreement with no significant induction of targeted ERE mRNA by SIV in macaque CD4+ T cells. Instead, lower infection rates and viral loads correlated significantly to protective TRIM5α alleles. Cumulatively, these data demonstrate that vaccination against the selected ERE consensus sequences in macaques did not lead to immune-mediated recognition and killing of SIV-infected cells, as has been shown for HIV-infected human cells using patient-derived HERV-K-specific T cells. Thus, further research is required to identify the specific nonhuman primate EREs and retroviruses that recapitulate the activity of HIV-1 in human cells. These results also highlight the complexity in translating observations of the interplay between HIV-1 and human EREs to animal models.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e92012. · 3.73 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

View
32 Downloads
Available from
Jun 2, 2014