HIV-1 reverse transcriptase is a target for cytotoxic T lymphocytes in infected individuals

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Science  01 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4848, pp. 64-66
DOI: 10.1126/science.2451288


Characterization of the host immune response to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is critical to the rational design of an effective AIDS vaccine. In this study, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RNA-dependent DNA polymerase) were found in blood samples from HIV-1-infected individuals. CTL targets were prepared by immortalizing B cells from ten seropositive and six seronegative individuals, and then infecting these cells with recombinant vaccinia viruses containing HIV-1 genes. CTL directed against autologous B lymphoblasts expressing HIV-1 reverse transcriptase were detected in fresh blood samples from eight HIV-1 seropositive subjects, but in no seronegative controls. The effector cells were identified as major histocompatibility complex-restricted CD3+CD8+ lymphocytes. Because the HIV-1 pol gene is highly conserved among different isolates and generates both humoral and cellular immune responses, it bears consideration for inclusion in a candidate AIDS vaccine.

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