Expression of type I interferon-associated genes at antiretroviral therapy interruption predicts HIV virological rebound.
Zacharopoulou P., Marchi E., Ogbe A., Robinson N., Brown H., Jones M., Parolini L., Pace M., Grayson N., Kaleebu P., Rees H., Fidler S., Goulder P., Klenerman P., Frater J.
Although certain individuals with HIV infection can stop antiretroviral therapy (ART) without viral load rebound, the mechanisms under-pinning 'post-treatment control' remain unclear. Using RNA-Seq we explored CD4 T cell gene expression to identify evidence of a mechanism that might underpin virological rebound and lead to discovery of associated biomarkers. Fourteen female participants who received 12 months of ART starting from primary HIV infection were sampled at the time of stopping therapy. Two analysis methods (Differential Gene Expression with Gene Set Enrichment Analysis, and Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis) were employed to interrogate CD4+ T cell gene expression data and study pathways enriched in post-treatment controllers versus early rebounders. Using independent analysis tools, expression of genes associated with type I interferon responses were associated with a delayed time to viral rebound following treatment interruption (TI). Expression of four genes identified by Cox-Lasso (ISG15, XAF1, TRIM25 and USP18) was converted to a Risk Score, which associated with rebound (p