CD8+ CTL inhibit the replication of HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus of macaques (SIVmac) in PBL and, therefore, are likely to play an important role in containing the spread of the AIDS virus in infected individuals. We have generated a series of gag-specific lytic T lymphocyte clones from PBL: of an SIVmac-infected rhesus monkey. These T cell clones are CD3+CD8+ and are MHC class I-restricted in their target specificity. They are, therefore, CTL. Interestingly, all gag-specific CTL clones, as well as the gag-specific lytic activity of PBL of this monkey, demonstrated specificity for a single 25 amino acid fragment of the SIVmac gag protein. Moreover, they were restricted in their lytic function by a single MHC class I allele. These findings illustrate a powerful method for cloning AIDS virus-specific T lymphocytes and demonstrate a remarkably restricted epitope specificity of this AIDS virus-specific CTL response.

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