In vivo induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 by synthetic viral peptides

Kevin Sean Casement, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) play an important role in the suppression of initial viremia after acute infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Most HIV-infected individuals attain a high titer of anti-HIV antibodies within weeks of infection; however this antibody-mediated immune response appears not to be protective. In addition, anti-HIV antibodies can be detrimental to the immune response to HIV through enhancement of infection and participating in autoimmune reactions as a result of HIV protein mimicry of self antigens. Thus induction and maintenance of a strong HIV-specific CTL immune response in the absence of anti-HIV antibodies has been proposed to be the most effective means of controlling of HIV infection. Immunization with synthetic peptides representing HIV-specific CTL epitopes provides a way to induce specific CTL responses, while avoiding stimulation of anti-HIV antibody. This dissertation examines the capacity of synthetic peptides from the V3 loop region of the gp120 envelope protein from several different strain of HIV-1 to induce HIV-specific, MHC-restricted CD8$\sp+$ CTL response in vivo in a mouse model. Seven synthetic peptides representative of sequences found throughout North America, Europe, and Central Africa have been shown to prime CTLs in vivo. In the case of the MN strain of HIV-1, a 13 amino acid sequence defining the epitope is most efficient for optimal induction of specific CTL, whereas eight to nine amino acid sequences that could define the epitope were not immunogenic. In addition, synthesis of peptides with specific amino acid substitutions that are important for either MHC binding or T cell receptor recognition resulted in peptides that exhibited increased immunogenicity and induced CTLs that displayed altered specificity. V3 loop peptides from HIV-1 MN, SC, and Z321 induced a CTL population that was broadly cross-reactive against strains of HIV-1 found throughout the world. This research confirms the potential efficacy of using synthetic peptides for in vivo immunization to induce HIV-specific CTL-mediated responses and provides a basis for further research into development of synthetic peptide-based vaccines.

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Recommended Citation

Casement, Kevin Sean, "In vivo induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 by synthetic viral peptides" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9626087.