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Published in Annu. Rev. Immunol. 2011. 29:295–317


Multiple epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, and more recently the killer cell immunoglobulin-like (KIR) locus has been implicated in differential responses to the virus. Genome-wide association studies have convincingly shown that the HLA class I locus is the most significant host genetic contributor to the variation in HIV control, underscoring a central role for CD8 T cells in resistance to the virus. However, both genetic and functional data indicate that part of the HLA effect on HIV is due to interactions between KIR and HLA genes, also implicating natural killer cells in defense against viral infection and viral expansion prior to initiation of an adaptive response. We review the HLA and KIR associations with HIV disease and the progress that has been made in understanding the mechanisms that explain these associations.

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