HIV is adapting to key elements of the human immune response, a Nature paper reveals. Successful vaccines will need to keep pace with the changing immunological profile of the virus.
There is a correlation between the prevalence of HIV mutations that help the virus evade detection by the host and human gene variants linked to immune recognition, Philip Goulder and colleagues report. The team arrived at their conclusions after analysing genetic data from more than 2,800 HIV-infected people from 5 different continents.
In particular, they looked at different human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles - a group of molecules that orchestrate the human immune response - and HIV sequence variants. HLA molecules present fragments of HIV proteins on the surface of infected cells to the immune system, so that they can be destroyed. But the virus is evolving so-called escape mutations that help it avoid this.
Philip Goulder (Oxford University, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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