A Conserved HIV-1-Derived Peptide Presented by HLA-E Renders Infected T-cells Highly Susceptible to Attack by NKG2A/CD94-Bearing Natural Killer Cells

Zachary B. Davis, Andrew Cogswell, Hamish Scott, Amanda Mertsching, Julie Boucau, Daniel Wambua, Sylvie Le Gall, Vicente Planelles, Kerry S. Campbell, Edward Barker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Major histocompatibility class I (MHC-I)-specific inhibitory receptors on natural killer (NK) cells (iNKRs) tolerize mature NK cell responses toward normal cells. NK cells generate cytolytic responses to virus-infected or malignant target cells with altered or decreased MHC-I surface expression due to the loss of tolerizing ligands. The NKG2A/CD94 iNKR suppresses NK cell responses through recognition of the non-classical MHC-I, HLA-E. We used HIV-infected primary T-cells as targets in an in vitro cytolytic assay with autologous NK cells from healthy donors. In these experiments, primary NKG2A/CD94+ NK cells surprisingly generated the most efficient responses toward HIV-infected T-cells, despite high HLA-E expression on the infected targets. Since certain MHC-I-presented peptides can alter recognition by iNKRs, we hypothesized that HIV-1-derived peptides presented by HLA-E on infected cells may block engagement with NKG2A/CD94, thereby engendering susceptibility to NKG2A/CD94+ NK cells. We demonstrate that HLA-E is capable of presenting a highly conserved peptide from HIV-1 capsid (AISPRTLNA) that is not recognized by NKG2A/CD94. We further confirmed that HLA-C expressed on HIV-infected cells restricts attack by KIR2DL+ CD56dim NK cells, in contrast to the efficient responses by CD56bright NK cells, which express predominantly NKG2A/CD94 and lack KIR2DLs. These findings are important since the use of NK cells was recently proposed to treat latently HIV-1-infected patients in combination with latency reversing agents. Our results provide a mechanistic basis to guide these future clinical studies, suggesting that ex vivo-expanded NKG2A/CD94+ KIR2DL- NK cells may be uniquely beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1005421
JournalPLoS pathogens
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Virology
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology

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