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HIV handicaps itself to escape immune system pressure
Date:4/15/2009

ace, viral abundance shoots upwards.

"In this situation, HIV resembles a thief picking a lock. Once all three mutations are in place, the lock is picked and the virus can thrive because the immune system can't fight against it," Hunter says.

The team followed the mutations' fate after transmission by studying couples in which one person had infected the other. If the recipient lacked HLA-B*5703, the virus lost the mutations, because the three handicapping mutations were not useful in evading the new, different immune system. But unlucky recipients with HLA-B*5703 who got the triple-mutant virus from their partners quickly got sick.

The results demonstrate the importance of CTLs, the white blood cells that attack viral infected cells, in controlling HIV infection. They also suggest that a successful vaccine will need to induce responses to many epitopes, or combinations of HLA molecule and viral protein.


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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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