The fusogenic (F) domain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp41 envelope (env) protein has sequence similarities to many virus and mediates the fusion of HIV-infected cells. During a survey of the immunogenicity of HIV env peptides in chimpanzees, we have observed that HIV peptide immunogenicity was dramatically altered by the NH2-terminal synthesis of the gp41 F domain to an otherwise immunogenic peptide. We compared two hybrid peptide types comprised of T helper (Th) and B cell epitopes of HIV gp120 env protein for their immunogenicity in chimpanzees. The Th-B epitope hybrid peptides contained the HIV gp120 Th cell determinant, T1 (amino acids [aa] 428-440)-synthesized NH2 terminal to gp120 V3 loop peptides, which contain B cell epitopes that induce anti-HIV-neutralizing antibodies (SP10IIIB [aa 303-321] and SP10IIIB [A] [aa 303-327]). The F-Th-B peptide contained the HIV gp41 F domain of HIVIIIB gp41 (aa 519-530)-synthesized NH2 terminal to the Th-B peptide. Whereas Th-B peptides were potent immunogens for chimpanzee antibody and T cell-proliferative responses, the F-Th-B peptide induced lower anti-HIV gp120 T and B cell responses. Moreover, immunization of chimpanzees with F-Th-B peptide but not Th-B peptides induced a significant decrease in peripheral blood T lymphocytes (mean decrease during immunization, 52%; p < 0.02). Chimpanzees previously immunized with F-Th-B peptide did not respond well to immunization with Th-B peptide with T or B cell responses to HIV peptides, demonstrating that the F-Th-B peptide induced immune hyporesponsiveness to Th and B HIV gp120 env determinants. These observations raise the hypothesis that the HIV gp41 env F domain may be a biologically active immunoregulatory peptide in vivo, and by an as yet uncharacterized mechanism, promotes primate immune system hyporesponsiveness to otherwise immunogenic peptides.
Conversion of an immunogenic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope synthetic peptide to a tolerogen in chimpanzees by the fusogenic domain of HIV gp41 envelope protein.
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B F Haynes, L O Arthur, P Frost, T J Matthews, A J Langlois, T J Palker, M K Hart, R M Scearce, D M Jones, C McDanal; Conversion of an immunogenic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope synthetic peptide to a tolerogen in chimpanzees by the fusogenic domain of HIV gp41 envelope protein.. J Exp Med 1 March 1993; 177 (3): 717–727. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.177.3.717
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