The failure of antiviral vaccines is often associated with rapid viral escape from specific immune responses. In the past, conserved epitope or algorithmic epitope selections, such as mosaic vaccines, have been designed to diversify immunity and to circumvent potential viral escape. An alternative approach is to identify conserved stable non-HIV-1 self-epitopes present exclusively in HIV-1-infected cells. We showed previously that human endogenous retroviral (HERV) mRNA transcripts and protein are found in cells of HIV-1-infected patients and that HERV-K (HML-2)-specific T cells can eliminate HIV-1-infected cells in vitro. In this article, we demonstrate that a human anti-HERV-K (HML-2) transmembrane protein Ab binds specifically to HIV- 1-infected cells and eliminates them through an Abdependent cellular cytotoxicity mechanism in vitro. Thus, Abs directed against epitopes other than HIV-1 proteins may have a role in eliminating HIV-1-infected cells and could be targeted in novel vaccine approaches or immunotherapeutic modalities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy