Purpose of review: This review will discuss the use of systems biology approaches to dissect the heterogeneity of the HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell response.
Recent findings: New experimental approaches have allowed complex phenotypes of individual cells present in the human antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell response to be characterized. Genome-wide measurements of gene expression in antigen-specific T cells have created broad molecular phenotypes of the T-cell response to HIV. Pattern recognition algorithms to discover new subclasses of samples in microarray datasets are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Together, these advances now allow the heterogeneity of the T-cell response to HIV to be unraveled.
Summary: The phenotype of antigen-specific T cells responding to pathogens like HIV in humans is seen as much ‘noisier’ than in animal models of infection. However, applying new systems biology tools may provide an opportunity to identify the sources of this ‘noise’ as novel, biologically distinct subclasses of the CD8+ T-cell response to HIV.