HIV-1 escape from CTL is predictable based on the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) class I alleles expressed by the host. As such, HIV-1 sequences circulating in a population of hosts will harbor escape mutations specific to the HLA alleles of that population. In theory, this should increase the frequency of escape mutation transmission to persons expressing the restricting HLA allele, thereby compromising host immunity to the incoming HIV-1 strain. However, the clinical impact of infection with HIV-1 containing immune escape mutations has not conclusively been demonstrated. Japan’s population features limited HLA diversity which is driving population-level HIV adaptation: for example, >60% of Japanese express HLA-A*24:02 and its associated Nef-Y135F escape mutation represents the population consensus. As such, Japan is an ideal population in which to examine this phenomenon. Here, we combine genetic and immunological analyses to identify A*24:02-positive individ- uals likely to have been infected with Y135F-containing HIV-1. Over a ~5 year follow-up, these individuals exhibited significantly lower CD4 counts compared to individuals inferred to have been infected with wild-type HIV-1. Our results support a significant negative clinical impact of pathogen adaptation to host pressures at the population level.
Katoh, J., Kawana-Tachikawa, A., Shimizu, A., Zhu, D., Han, C., Nakamura, H., … Iwamoto, A. (2016). Rapid HIV-1 disease progression in individuals infected with a virus adapted to its host population. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150397