Differential escape patterns within the dominant HLA-B*57:03-restricted HIV Gag epitope reflect distinct clade-specific functional constraints. HLA-B*57:01 and HLA-B*57:03, the most prevalent HLA-B*57 subtypes in Caucasian and African populations, respectively, are the HLA alleles most protective against HIV disease progression. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this immune control is of critical importance, yet they remain unclear. Unexplained differences are observed in the impact of the dominant cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response restricted by HLA-B*57:01 and HLA-B*57:03 in chronic infection on the Gag epitope KAFSPEVIPMF (KF11; Gag 162 to 172). We previously showed that the HLA-B*57:03-KF11 response is associated with a >1-log-lower viral setpoint in C clade virus infection and that this response selects escape mutants within the epitope.
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