Vaccine-elicited human T cells recognizing conserved protein regions inhibit HIV-1
Borthwick N., Ahmed T., Ondondo B., Hayes P., Rose A., Ebrahimsa U., Hayton EJ., Black A., Bridgeman A., Rosario M., Hill AV., Berrie E., Moyle S., Frahm N., Cox J., Colloca S., Nicosia A., Gilmour J., McMichael AJ., Dorrell L., Hanke T.
Virus diversity and escape from immune responses are the biggest challenges to the development of an effective vaccine against HIV-1. We hypothesized that T-cell vaccines targeting the most conserved regions of the HIV-1 proteome, which are common to most variants and bear fitness costs when mutated, will generate effectors that efficiently recognize and kill virus-infected cells early enough after transmission to potentially impact on HIV-1 replication and will do so more efficiently than whole protein-based T-cell vaccines. Here, we describe the first-ever administration of conserved immunogen vaccines vectored using prime-boost regimens of DNA, simian adenovirus and modified vaccinia virus Ankara to uninfected UK volunteers. The vaccine induced high levels of effector T cells that recognized virus-infected autologous CD4 + cells and inhibited HIV-1 replication by up to 5.79 log 10. The virus inhibition was mediated by both Gag- and Pol- specific effector CD8 + T cells targeting epitopes that are typically subdominant in natural infection. These results provide proof of concept for using a vaccine to target T cells at conserved epitopes, showing that these T cells can control HIV-1 replication in vitro. © The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.