A major obstacle for the rationale development of a preventive HIV vaccine is our lack of understanding of the mechanisms of immune protection against HIV infection. During recent years however, primate studies taught us a lot about the earliest HIV transmission events, and rare HIV-resistant individuals revealed key information towards better understanding of HIV-protective immunity. It is now clear that the innate immune response offers the best guarantee to prevent HIV infection because of its capacity to rapidly respond to virus exposure without the need for prior activation. Natural killer (NK) cells are crucial innate immune cells that can prevent early virus spreading by direct killing of virus-infected cells and by stimulating the other arms of the immune response. However, the contribution of NK cells to protection against HIV infection is not well understood. Genetic studies from our laboratory and from others have shown that HIV-resistant individuals display an NK cell activating gene profile, but the functional consequences of these findings remain unknown. In this research project, we will perform a number of state-of-art functional, phenotypic and transcriptomic experiments that will allow us to unravel the mechanisms of NK cell-mediated resistance to HIV infection. Our studies will lead to a better understanding of the HIV-protective capacity of NK cells and how this understudied cell type can better exploited in future HIV preventive vaccines or therapies.
|Effective start/end date||22/01/15 → 2/04/20|
IWETO expertise domain