A new antigen scanning strategy for monitoring HIV-1 specific T-cell immune responses

Mauro S. Malnati, Silvia Heltai, Antonio Cosma, Peter Reitmeir, Simone Allgayer, Richard H. Glashoff, Walter Liebrich, Eftyhia Vardas, Nesrina Imami, Samantha Westrop, Silvia Nozza, Giuseppe Tambussi, Stefano Buttò, Emanuele Fanales-Belasio, Barbara Ensoli, Fabrizio Ensoli, Antonella Tripiciano, Claudio Fortis, Paolo Lusso, Guido PoliVolker Erfle, Harvey Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delineation of the immune correlates of protection in natural infection or after vaccination is a mandatory step for vaccine development. Although the most recent techniques allow a sensitive and specific detection of the cellular immune response, a consensus on the best strategy to assess their magnitude and breadth is yet to be reached. Within the AIDS Vaccine Integrated Project (AVIP http://www.avip-eu.org) we developed an antigen scanning strategy combining the empirical-based approach of overlapping peptides with a vast array of database information. This new system, termed Variable Overlapping Peptide Scanning Design (VOPSD), was used for preparing two peptide sets encompassing the candidate HIV-1 vaccine antigens Tat and Nef. Validation of the VOPSD strategy was obtained by direct comparison with 15mer or 20mer peptide sets in a trial involving six laboratories of the AVIP consortium. Cross-reactive background responses were measured in 80 HIV seronegative donors (HIV-), while sensitivity and magnitude of Tat and Nef-specific T-cell responses were assessed on 90 HIV+ individuals. In HIV-, VOPSD peptides generated background responses comparable with those of the standard sets. In HIV-1+ individuals the VOPSD pools showed a higher sensitivity in detecting individual responses (Tat VOPSD vs. Tat 15mers or 20mers: p ≤ 0.01) as well as in generating stronger responses (Nef VOPSD vs. Nef 20mers: p <0.001) than standard sets, enhancing both CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses. Moreover, this peptide design allowed a marked reduction of the peptides number, representing a powerful tool for investigating novel HIV-1 candidate vaccine antigens in cohorts of HIV-seronegative and seropositive individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 31 2012


  • ELISpot
  • HIV-1
  • Nef
  • Peptide
  • Tat
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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