Protective HIV-specific CD8+ T cells evade Treg cell suppression.

Viral Vaccine Program, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (Seattle Biomed), Seattle, Washington, USA.
Nature medicine (Impact Factor: 28.05). 07/2011; 17(8):989-95. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2422
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Specific human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), notably HLA-B*27 and HLA-B*57 allele groups, have long been associated with control of HIV-1. Although the majority of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells lose proliferative capacity during chronic infection, T cells restricted by HLA-B*27 or HLA-B*57 allele groups do not. Here we show that CD8(+) T cells restricted by 'protective' HLA allele groups are not suppressed by T(reg) cells, whereas, within the same individual, T cells restricted by 'nonprotective' alleles are highly suppressed ex vivo. This differential sensitivity of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells to T(reg) cell-mediated suppression correlates with their expression of the inhibitory receptor T cell immunoglobulin domain and mucin domain 3 (Tim-3) after stimulation with their cognate epitopes. Furthermore, we show that HLA-B*27- and HLA-B*57-restricted effectors also evade T(reg) cell-mediated suppression by directly killing T(reg) cells they encounter in a granzyme B (GzmB)-dependent manner. This study uncovers a previously unknown explanation for why HLA-B*27 and HLA-B*57 allele groups are associated with delayed HIV-1 disease progression.

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    ABSTRACT: The T cell Ig- and mucin domain-containing molecule-3 (Tim-3) negative immune checkpoint receptor demarcates functionally exhausted CD8(+) T cells arising from chronic stimulation in viral infections like HIV. Tim-3 blockade leads to improved antiviral CD8(+) T cell responses in vitro and, therefore, represents a novel intervention strategy to restore T cell function in vivo and protect from disease progression. However, the Tim-3 pathway in the physiologically relevant rhesus macaque SIV model of AIDS remains uncharacterized. We report that Tim-3(+)CD8(+) T cell frequencies are significantly increased in lymph nodes, but not in peripheral blood, in SIV-infected animals. Tim-3(+)PD-1(+)CD8(+) T cells are similarly increased during SIV infection and positively correlate with SIV plasma viremia. Tim-3 expression was found primarily on effector memory CD8(+) T cells in all tissues examined. Tim-3(+)CD8(+) T cells have lower Ki-67 content and minimal cytokine responses to SIV compared with Tim-3(-)CD8(+) T cells. During acute-phase SIV replication, Tim-3 expression peaked on SIV-specific CD8(+) T cells by 2 wk postinfection and then rapidly diminished, irrespective of mutational escape of cognate Ag, suggesting non-TCR-driven mechanisms for Tim-3 expression. Thus, rhesus Tim-3 in SIV infection partially mimics human Tim-3 in HIV infection and may serve as a novel model for targeted studies focused on rejuvenating HIV-specific CD8(+) T cell responses.

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