A detailed analysis of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses and the identification of the proteins and epitopes they target may improve the design of immunotherapeutic interventions and provide insights into AIDS pathogenesis. Here, we identified a new CTL epitope in the SIV Gag protein, recognized by CD8+ and MHC class I-restricted CTL clones from a long-term asymptomatic cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) infected with SIVmac32H-J5. Using overlapping synthetic peptides, the optimal minimal epitope was characterized as a nine amino acid peptide representing amino acids 242-250 of p26 (SVDEQIQWM). CTL recognition was shown to be abolished by amino acid substitutions observed within homologous human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and HIV-2 sequences.


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