Short conserved sequences of HIV-1 are highly immunogenic and shift immunodominance

Otto O. Yang, Ayub Ali, Noriyuki Kasahara, Emmanuelle Faure-Kumar, Jin Young Bae, Louis J. Picker, Haesun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Cellular immunity is pivotal in HIV-1 pathogenesis but is hampered by viral sequence diversity. An approach to minimize this diversity is to focus immunity on conserved proteome sequences; therefore, we selected four relatively conserved regions (Gag amino acids 148 to 214 and 250 to 335, Env amino acids 521 to 606, and Nef amino acids 106 to 148), each created in three mosaics, to provide better coverage of M-group HIV-1 sequences. A conserved-region vaccine (CRV) delivering genes for these four regions as equal mixtures of three mosaics each (each region at a separate injection site) was compared to a whole-protein vaccine (WPV) delivering equimolar amounts of genes for whole Gag, Env, and Nef as clade B consensus sequences (separate injection sites). Three rhesus macaques were vaccinated via three DNA primes and a recombinant adenovirus type 5 boost (weeks 0, 4, 8, and 24, respectively). Although CRV inserts were about one-fifth that of WPV, the CRV generated comparable-magnitude blood CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte responses against Gag, Env, and Nef. WPV responses preferentially targeted proteome areas outside the selected conserved regions in direct proportion to sequence lengths, indicating similar immunogenicities for the conserved regions and the outside regions. The CRV yielded a conserved-region targeting density that was approximately 5-fold higher than that of the WPV. A similar pattern was seen for bronchoalveolar lymphocytes, but with quadruple the magnitudes seen in blood. Overall, these findings demonstrate that the selected conserved regions are highly immunogenic and that anatomically isolated vaccinations with these regions focus immunodominance compared to the case for full-length protein vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1204
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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