HIV-1 is known to show a high degree of genetic diversity, which may have major implications for disease pathogenesis and prevention. If every divergent isolate represented a distinct serotype, then effective vaccination might be impossible. However, using a sensitive new plaque-forming assay for HIV-1, we have found that most infected patients make neutralizing antibodies, predominantly to a group-specific epitope shared among three highly divergent isolates. This epitope persists among divergent isolates and rarely mutates, despite the rapid overall mutation rate of HIV-1, suggesting that it may participate in an essential viral function. These findings, plus the rarity of reinfections among these patients, suggest that HIV-1 may be more susceptible to a vaccine strategy based on a group-specific neutralizing epitope than was previously suspected.
Human immunodeficiency virus 1. Predominance of a group-specific neutralizing epitope that persists despite genetic variation.
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I Berkower, G E Smith, C Giri, D Murphy; Human immunodeficiency virus 1. Predominance of a group-specific neutralizing epitope that persists despite genetic variation.. J Exp Med 1 November 1989; 170 (5): 1681–1695. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.170.5.1681
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