Positioning of APOBEC3G/F Mutational Hotspots in the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Genome Favors Reduced Recognition by CD8+ T Cells

Monajemi, Mahdis and Woodworth, Claire F. and Zipperlen, Katrin and Gallant, Maureen E. and Grant, Michael D. and Larijani, Mani (2014) Positioning of APOBEC3G/F Mutational Hotspots in the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Genome Favors Reduced Recognition by CD8+ T Cells. PLoS ONE, 9 (4). ISSN 1932-6203

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Due to constitutive expression in cells targeted by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and immediate mode of viral restriction upon HIV entry into the host cell, APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F) have been considered primarily as agents of innate immunity. Recent bioinformatic and mouse model studies hint at the possibility that mutation of the HIV genome by these enzymes may also affect adaptive immunity but whether this occurs in HIV-infected individuals has not been examined. We evaluated whether APOBEC-mediated mutations within common HIV CD8+ T cell epitopes can potentially enhance or diminish activation of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells from infected individuals. We compared ex vivo activation of CD8+ T lymphocytes from HIV-infected individuals by wild type HIV peptide epitopes and synthetic variants bearing simulated A3G/F-induced mutations by measuring interferon-c (IFN-c) production. We found that A3G/F-induced mutations consistently diminished HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses against the common epitopes we tested. If this reflects a significant trend in vivo, then adaptation by HIV to enrich sequences that are favored for mutation by A3G/F (A3G/F hotspots) in portions of its genome that encode immunogenic CD8+ T cell epitopes would favor CTL escape. Indeed, we found the most frequently mutated A3G motif (CCC) is enriched up to 6-fold within viral genomic sequences encoding immunodominant CD8+ T cell epitopes in Gag, Pol and Nef. Within each gene, A3G/F hotspots are more abundant in sequences encoding epitopes that are commonly recognized due to their HLA restriction. Thus, in our system, mutations of the HIV genome, mimicking A3G/F activity, appeared to abrogate or severely reduce CTL recognition. We suggest that the physiological significance of this potential effect in facilitating CTL escape is echoed in the adaptation of the HIV genome to enrich A3G/F hotspots in sequences encoding CTL epitopes that are more immunogenic at the population level.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6436
Item ID: 6436
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Department(s): Medicine, Faculty of
Date: 10 April 2014
Date Type: Publication
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