Generation of robust CD8+ T-cell responses against subdominant epitopes in conserved regions of HIV-1 by repertoire mining with mimotopes

Keri L. Schaubert, David A. Price, Janelle R. Salkowitz, Andrew K. Sewell, John Sidney, Tedi E. Asher, Sylvie E. Blondelle, Sharon Adams, Francesco M. Marincola, Aviva Joseph, Alessandro Sette, Daniel C. Douek, Velpandi Ayyavoo, Walter Storkus, Ming Ying Leung, Hwee L. Ng, Otto O. Yang, Harris Goldstein, Darcy B. Wilson, June Kan-Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


HLA-A*0201-restricted virus-specific CD8+ CTL do not appear to control HIV effectively in vivo. To enhance the immunogenicity of a highly conserved subdominant epitope, TV9 (TLNAWVKVV, p24 Gag19-27), mimotopes were designed by screening a large combinatorial nonapeptide library with TV9-specific CTL primed in vitro from healthy donors. A mimic peptide with a low binding affinity to HLA-A*0201, TV9p6 (KINAWIKVV), was studied further. Parallel cultures of in vitro-primed CTL showed that TV9p6 consistently activated cross-reactive and equally functional CTL as measured by cytotoxicity, cytokine production and suppression of HIV replication in vitro. Comparison of TCRB gene usage between CTL primed from the same donors with TV9 or TV9p6 revealed a degree of clonal overlap in some cases and an example of a conserved TCRB sequence encoded distinctly at the nucleotide level between individuals (a "public" TCR); however, in the main, distinct clonotypes were recruited by each peptide antigen. These findings indicate that mimotopes can mobilize functional cross-reactive clonotypes that are less readily recruited from the naïve T-cell pool by the corresponding WT epitope. Mimotope-induced repertoire diversification could potentially override subdominance under certain circumstances and enhance vaccine-induced responses to conserved but poorly immunogenic determinants within the HIV proteome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1950-1962
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Agonist peptide
  • CD8 CTL
  • HIV vaccine
  • In vitro immunization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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