The three-dimensional structure of a SARS coronavirus-derived peptide, VQQESSFVM, bound to the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen HLA-B*1501 is presented.
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I system comprises a highly polymorphic set of molecules that specifically bind and present peptides to cytotoxic T cells. HLA-B*1501 is a prototypical member of the HLA-B62 supertype and only two peptide–HLA-B*1501 structures have been determined. Here, the crystal structure of HLA-B*1501 in complex with a SARS coronavirus-derived nonapeptide (VQQESSFVM) has been determined at high resolution (1.87 Å). The peptide is deeply anchored in the B and F pockets, but with the Glu4 residue pointing away from the floor in the peptide-binding groove, making it available for interactions with a potential T-cell receptor.
human leukocyte antigen class I; SARS coronavirus-derived peptides; HLA-B*1501
Crystals of an MHC class I molecule bound to naturally occurring peptide variants from the dengue virus NS3 protein contained high levels of solvent and required optimization of cryoprotectant and dehydration protocols for each complex to yield well ordered diffraction, a process facilitated by the use of a free-mounting system.
T-cell recognition of the antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules normally triggers protective immune responses, but can result in immune enhancement of disease. Cross-reactive T-cell responses may underlie immunopathology in dengue haemorrhagic fever. To analyze these effects at the molecular level, the functional MHC class I molecule HLA-A*1101 was crystallized bound to six naturally occurring peptide variants from the dengue virus NS3 protein. The crystals contained high levels of solvent and required optimization of the cryoprotectant and dehydration protocols for each complex to yield well ordered diffraction, a process that was facilitated by the use of a free-mounting system.
MHC class I; free-mounting system; crystal dehydration
Protein antigens and their specific epitopes are formulation targets for epitope-based vaccines. A number of prediction servers are available for identification of peptides that bind major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules. The lack of standardized methodology and large number of human MHC-I molecules make the selection of appropriate prediction servers difficult. This study reports a comparative evaluation of thirty prediction servers for seven human MHC-I molecules.
Of 147 individual predictors 39 have shown excellent, 47 good, 33 marginal, and 28 poor ability to classify binders from non-binders. The classifiers for HLA-A*0201, A*0301, A*1101, B*0702, B*0801, and B*1501 have excellent, and for A*2402 moderate classification accuracy. Sixteen prediction servers predict peptide binding affinity to MHC-I molecules with high accuracy; correlation coefficients ranging from r = 0.55 (B*0801) to r = 0.87 (A*0201).
Non-linear predictors outperform matrix-based predictors. Most predictors can be improved by non-linear transformations of their raw prediction scores. The best predictors of peptide binding are also best in prediction of T-cell epitopes. We propose a new standard for MHC-I binding prediction – a common scale for normalization of prediction scores, applicable to both experimental and predicted data. The results of this study provide assistance to researchers in selection of most adequate prediction tools and selection criteria that suit the needs of their projects.
Accurate T-cell epitope prediction is a principal objective of computational vaccinology. As a service to the immunology and vaccinology communities at large, we have implemented, as a server on the World Wide Web, a partial least squares-based multivariate statistical approach to the quantitative prediction of peptide binding to major histocom- patibility complexes (MHC), the key checkpoint on the antigen presentation pathway within adaptive cellular immunity. MHCPred implements robust statistical models for both Class I alleles (HLA-A*0101, HLA-A*0201, HLA-A*0202, HLA-A*0203, HLA-A*0206, HLA-A*0301, HLA-A*1101, HLA-A*3301, HLA-A*6801, HLA-A*6802 and HLA-B*3501) and Class II alleles (HLA-DRB*0401, HLA-DRB*0401 and HLA-DRB*0701). MHCPred is available from the URL: http://www.jenner.ac.uk/MHCPred.
The highly polymorphic major histocompatibility complex class Ia (MHC-Ia) molecules present a broad array of peptides to the clonotypically diverse αβ T-cell receptors. In contrast, MHC-Ib molecules exhibit limited polymorphism and bind a more restricted peptide repertoire, in keeping with their major role in innate immunity. Nevertheless, some MHC-Ib molecules do play a role in adaptive immunity. While human leukocyte antigen E (HLA-E), the MHC-Ib molecule, binds a very restricted repertoire of peptides, the peptide binding preferences of HLA-G, the class Ib molecule, are less stringent, although the basis by which HLA-G can bind various peptides is unclear. To investigate how HLA-G can accommodate different peptides, we compared the structure of HLA-G bound to three naturally abundant self-peptides (RIIPRHLQL, KGPPAALTL and KLPQAFYIL) and their thermal stabilities. The conformation of HLA-GKGPPAALTL was very similar to that of the HLA-GRIIPRHLQL structure. However, the structure of HLA-GKLPQAFYIL not only differed in the conformation of the bound peptide but also caused a small shift in the α2 helix of HLA-G. Furthermore, the relative stability of HLA-G was observed to be dependent on the nature of the bound peptide. These peptide-dependent effects on the substructure of the monomorphic HLA-G are likely to impact on its recognition by receptors of both innate and adaptive immune systems.
human leukocyte antigen G, HLA-G; structural immunology; innate immunity; antigen presentation; adaptive immunity
The mechanisms of HLA-DM catalyzed peptide exchange remain uncertain. We found that all stages of the interaction of DM with HLA-DR were dependent on the occupancy state of the peptide binding groove. High-affinity peptides were protected from removal by DM through two mechanisms: peptide binding induced dissociation of a long-lived complex of empty DR and DM, and high-affinity DR-peptide complexes bound DM only very slowly. Non-binding covalent DR-peptide complexes were converted to efficient DM binders upon truncation of an N-terminal peptide segment that emptied the P1 pocket and disrupted conserved hydrogen bonds to MHC. DM thus only binds to DR conformers in which a critical part of the binding site is vacant, due to spontaneous peptide motion.
The current challenge in synthetic vaccine design is the development of a methodology to identify and test short antigen
peptides as potential T-cell epitopes. Recently, we described a HLA-peptide binding model (using structural properties)
capable of predicting peptides binding to any HLA allele. Consequently, we have developed a web server named T-EPITOPE
DESIGNER to facilitate HLA-peptide binding prediction. The prediction server is based on a model that defines peptide
binding pockets using information gleaned from X-ray crystal structures of HLA-peptide complexes, followed by the estimation
of peptide binding to binding pockets. Thus, the prediction server enables the calculation of peptide binding to HLA alleles.
This model is superior to many existing methods because of its potential application to any given HLA allele whose sequence
is clearly defined. The web server finds potential application in T cell epitope vaccine design.
HLA; peptide; binding; prediction; immunity; T-cell; epitope; design; vaccine
Qa-1b binds a peptide (AMAPRTLLL), referred to as Qdm (for Qa-1 determinant modifier), derived from the signal sequence of murine class Ia molecules. This peptide binds with high affinity and accounts for almost all of the peptides associated with this molecule. Human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-E, a homologue of Qa-1b, binds similar peptides derived from human class Ia molecules and interacts with CD94/NKG2 receptors on natural killer cells. We used surface plasmon resonance to determine the ability of Qa-1b to bind related ligands representing peptides derived from the leaders of class I molecules from several mammalian species. All of the peptides reported to bind HLA-E bound readily to Qa-1b. In addition, peptides derived from leader segments of different mammals also bound to Qa-1b, indicating a conservation of this “Qdm-like” epitope throughout mammalian evolution. We have attempted to define a minimal peptide on a polyglycine backbone that binds Qa-1b. Our previous findings showed that P2 and P9 are important but not sufficient for binding to Qa-1b. Although a minimum peptide (GMGGGGLLL) bound Qa-1b, its interaction was relatively weak, as were peptides sharing five or six residues with Qdm, indicating that multiple native residues are required for a strong interaction. This finding is consistent with the observation that this molecule preferentially binds this single ligand.
major histocompatibility complex class Ib; Qa-1b; surface plasmon resonance; peptide; binding
Recombinant HLA-A2, HLA-B8, or HLA-B53 heavy chain produced in Escherichia coli was combined with recombinant β2-microglobulin (β2m) and a pool of randomly synthesised nonamer peptides. This mixture was allowed to refold to form stable major histocompatability complex (MHC) class I complexes, which were then purified by gel filtration chromatography. The peptides bound to the MHC class I molecules were subsequently eluted and sequenced as a pool. Peptide binding motifs for these three MHC class I molecules were derived and compared with previously described motifs derived from analysis of naturally processed peptides eluted from the surface of cells. This comparison indicated that the peptides bound by the recombinant MHC class I molecules showed a similar motif to naturally processed and presented peptides, with the exception of the peptide COOH terminus. Whereas the motifs derived from naturally processed peptides eluted from HLA-A2 and HLA-B8 indicated a strong preference for hydrophobic amino acids at the COOH terminus, this preference was not observed in our studies. We propose that this difference reflects the effects of processing or transport on the peptide repertoire available for binding to MHC class I molecules in vivo.
Protein sequences from multiple hepatitis B virus (HBV) isolates were analyzed for the presence of amino acid motifs characteristic of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) and helper T-lymphocyte (HTL) epitopes with the goal of identifying conserved epitopes suitable for use in a therapeutic vaccine. Specifically, sequences bearing HLA-A1, -A2, -A3, -A24, -B7, and -DR supertype binding motifs were identified, synthesized as peptides, and tested for binding to soluble HLA. The immunogenicity of peptides that bound with moderate to high affinity subsequently was assessed using HLA transgenic mice (CTL) and HLA cross-reacting H-2bxd (BALB/c × C57BL/6J) mice (HTL). Through this process, 30 CTL and 16 HTL epitopes were selected as a set that would be the most useful for vaccine design, based on epitope conservation among HBV sequences and HLA-based predicted population coverage in diverse ethnic groups. A plasmid DNA-based vaccine encoding the epitopes as a single gene product, with each epitope separated by spacer residues to enhance appropriate epitope processing, was designed. Immunogenicity testing in mice demonstrated the induction of multiple CTL and HTL responses. Furthermore, as a complementary approach, mass spectrometry allowed the identification of correctly processed and major histocompatibility complex-presented epitopes from human cells transfected with the DNA plasmid. A heterologous prime-boost immunization with the plasmid DNA and a recombinant MVA gave further enhancement of the immune responses. Thus, a multiepitope therapeutic vaccine candidate capable of stimulating those cellular immune responses thought to be essential for controlling and clearing HBV infection was successfully designed and evaluated in vitro and in HLA transgenic mice.
Prediction of peptide binding to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules is essential to a wide range of clinical entities from vaccine design to stem cell transplant compatibility. Here we present a new structure-based methodology that applies robust computational tools to model peptide-HLA (p-HLA) binding interactions. The method leverages the structural conservation observed in p-HLA complexes to significantly reduce the search space and calculate the system’s binding free energy. This approach is benchmarked against existing p-HLA complexes and the prediction performance is measured against a library of experimentally validated peptides. The effect on binding activity across a large set of high-affinity peptides is used to investigate amino acid mismatches reported as high-risk factors in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Binding of peptides to Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules is the single most selective step in the recognition of pathogens by the cellular immune system. The human MHC class I system (HLA-I) is extremely polymorphic. The number of registered HLA-I molecules has now surpassed 1500. Characterizing the specificity of each separately would be a major undertaking.
Here, we have drawn on a large database of known peptide-HLA-I interactions to develop a bioinformatics method, which takes both peptide and HLA sequence information into account, and generates quantitative predictions of the affinity of any peptide-HLA-I interaction. Prospective experimental validation of peptides predicted to bind to previously untested HLA-I molecules, cross-validation, and retrospective prediction of known HIV immune epitopes and endogenous presented peptides, all successfully validate this method. We further demonstrate that the method can be applied to perform a clustering analysis of MHC specificities and suggest using this clustering to select particularly informative novel MHC molecules for future biochemical and functional analysis.
Encompassing all HLA molecules, this high-throughput computational method lends itself to epitope searches that are not only genome- and pathogen-wide, but also HLA-wide. Thus, it offers a truly global analysis of immune responses supporting rational development of vaccines and immunotherapy. It also promises to provide new basic insights into HLA structure-function relationships. The method is available at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NetMHCpan.
Predictive models of peptide-Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) binding affinity are important components of modern computational immunovaccinology. Here, we describe the development and deployment of a reliable peptide-binding prediction method for a previously poorly-characterized human MHC class I allele, HLA-Cw*0102.
Using an in-house, flow cytometry-based MHC stabilization assay we generated novel peptide binding data, from which we derived a precise two-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (2D-QSAR) binding model. This allowed us to explore the peptide specificity of HLA-Cw*0102 molecule in detail. We used this model to design peptides optimized for HLA-Cw*0102-binding. Experimental analysis showed these peptides to have high binding affinities for the HLA-Cw*0102 molecule. As a functional validation of our approach, we also predicted HLA-Cw*0102-binding peptides within the HIV-1 genome, identifying a set of potent binding peptides. The most affine of these binding peptides was subsequently determined to be an epitope recognized in a subset of HLA-Cw*0102-positive individuals chronically infected with HIV-1.
A functionally-validated in silico-in vitro approach to the reliable and efficient prediction of peptide binding to a previously uncharacterized human MHC allele HLA-Cw*0102 was developed. This technique is generally applicable to all T cell epitope identification problems in immunology and vaccinology.
Human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DM is a facilitator of antigen presentation via major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules. In the absence of HLA-DM, MHC class II molecules do not present natural peptides, but tend to remain associated with class II- associated invariant chain peptides (CLIP). Recently, DM was shown to catalyze the release of CLIP from HLA-DR. We have investigated which peptides bound to HLA-DR are vulnerable to release upon encountering DM. By directed substitution of allele-specific anchor residues between CLIP and DR3-cognate peptides and the application of recombinant DM we show that DM catalyzes the release of those peptides bound to HLA-DR3 that do not have appropriate anchor residues and, hence, no optimal ligand binding motif. Thus, HLA-DM acts as a peptide editor, facilitating selection of peptides that stably bind to class II molecules for eventual presentation to the immune system from the pool of available peptides.
The present study was designed to determine if highly conserved hepatitis B virus (HBV)-derived peptides that bind multiple HLA class I alleles with high affinity are recognized as cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes in acutely infected patients. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 67 patients with acute hepatitis B, and 12 patients convalescent from acute hepatitis B, were stimulated with three panels of peptides, each of which bind with high affinity to several class I alleles from the HLA-A2-, HLA-A3-, or HLA-B7-supertypes. In these patients, 8 of the 19 peptides tested were found to represent CTL epitopes recognized by two or more alleles in each supertype. Two sets of nested peptides were recognized in the context of alleles with completely unrelated peptide binding specificities. Finally, promiscuous recognition by the same CTL of a given peptide presented by target cells expressing different A2 subtypes was also commonly observed. In conclusion, several HBV-specific CTL epitopes, recognized by acutely infected or convalescent patients in the context of a wide range of HLA alleles have been identified. These results demonstrate the functional relevance of the supertype grouping of HLA class I molecules in a human viral disease setting. Furthermore, they represent a significant advance in the development of a totally synthetic vaccine to terminate chronic HBV infection and support the feasibility of a systematic approach to development of similar vaccines for prevention and treatment of other chronic viral infections.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene polymorphism plays a critical role in protective immunity, disease susceptibility, autoimmunity, and drug hypersensitivity, yet the basis of how HLA polymorphism influences T cell receptor (TCR) recognition is unclear. We examined how a natural micropolymorphism in HLA-B44, an important and large HLA allelic family, affected antigen recognition. T cell–mediated immunity to an Epstein-Barr virus determinant (EENLLDFVRF) is enhanced when HLA-B*4405 was the presenting allotype compared with HLA-B*4402 or HLA-B*4403, each of which differ by just one amino acid. The micropolymorphism in these HLA-B44 allotypes altered the mode of binding and dynamics of the bound viral epitope. The structure of the TCR–HLA-B*4405EENLLDFVRF complex revealed that peptide flexibility was a critical parameter in enabling preferential engagement with HLA-B*4405 in comparison to HLA-B*4402/03. Accordingly, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) polymorphism can alter the dynamics of the peptide-MHC landscape, resulting in fine-tuning of T cell responses between closely related allotypes.
The recognition of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-E by the heterodimeric CD94-NKG2 natural killer (NK) receptor family is a central innate mechanism by which NK cells monitor the expression of other HLA molecules, yet the structural basis of this highly specific interaction is unclear. Here, we describe the crystal structure of CD94-NKG2A in complex with HLA-E bound to a peptide derived from the leader sequence of HLA-G. The CD94 subunit dominated the interaction with HLA-E, whereas the NKG2A subunit was more peripheral to the interface. Moreover, the invariant CD94 subunit dominated the peptide-mediated contacts, albeit with poor surface and chemical complementarity. This unusual binding mode was consistent with mutagenesis data at the CD94-NKG2A–HLA-E interface. There were few conformational changes in either CD94-NKG2A or HLA-E upon ligation, and such a “lock and key” interaction is typical of innate receptor–ligand interactions. Nevertheless, the structure also provided insight into how this interaction can be modulated by subtle changes in the peptide ligand or by the pairing of CD94 with other members of the NKG2 family. Differences in the docking strategies used by the NKG2D and CD94-NKG2A receptors provided a basis for understanding the promiscuous nature of ligand recognition by NKG2D compared with the fidelity of the CD94-NKG2 receptors.
T cell receptor (TCR) engagement of peptide-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is essential to adaptive immunity, but it is unknown if TCR signaling responses are influenced by the binding topology of the TCR-peptide-MHC complex. We developed yeast-displayed peptide-MHC libraries that enabled us to identify new peptide sequences reactive with a single TCR. Structural analysis showed that four peptides bound to the TCR with distinct 3-dimensional (3D) and 2D affinities, using entirely different binding chemistries. Three of the peptides that shared a common docking mode, where key TCR-MHC germline interactions are preserved, induced TCR signaling. The fourth peptide failed to induce signaling, and was recognized in a substantially different TCR-MHC binding mode that apparently exceeded geometric tolerances compatible with signaling. We suggest that the ‘stereotypical’ TCR-MHC docking paradigm evolved from productive signaling geometries, and that TCR signaling can be modulated by peptides that are recognized in alternative TCR-pMHC binding orientations.
Major histocompatibility complex proteins are believed to undergo significant conformational changes concomitant with peptide binding, but structural characterization of these changes has remained elusive.
Here we use molecular dynamics simulations and experimental probes of protein conformation to investigate the peptide-free state of class II MHC proteins. Upon computational removal of the bound peptide from HLA-DR1-peptide complex, the α50-59 region folded into the P1-P4 region of the peptide binding site, adopting the same conformation as a bound peptide. Strikingly, the structure of the hydrophobic P1 pocket is maintained by engagement of the side chain of Phe α54. In addition, conserved hydrogen bonds observed in crystal structures between the peptide backbone and numerous MHC side chains are maintained between the α51-55 region and the rest of the molecule. The model for the peptide-free conformation was evaluated using conformationally-sensitive antibody and superantigen probes predicted to show no change, moderate change, or dramatic changes in their interaction with peptide-free DR1 and peptide-loaded DR1. The binding observed for these probes is in agreement with the movements predicted by the model.
This work presents a molecular model for peptide-free class II MHC proteins that can help to interpret the conformational changes known to occur within the protein during peptide binding and release, and can provide insight into possible mechanisms for DM action.
The high diversity of HLA binding preferences has been driven by the sequence diversity of short segments of relevant pathogenic proteins presented by HLA molecules to the immune system. To identify possible commonalities in HLA binding preferences, we quantify these using a novel measure termed “targeting efficiency,” which captures the correlation between HLA-peptide binding affinities and the conservation of the targeted proteomic regions. Analysis of targeting efficiencies for 95 HLA class I alleles over thousands of human proteins and 52 human viruses indicates that HLA molecules preferentially target conserved regions in these proteomes, although the arboviral Flaviviridae are a notable exception where nonconserved regions are preferentially targeted by most alleles. HLA-A alleles and several HLA-B alleles that have maintained close sequence identity with chimpanzee homologues target conserved human proteins and DNA viruses such as Herpesviridae and Adenoviridae most efficiently, while all HLA-B alleles studied efficiently target RNA viruses. These patterns of host and pathogen specialization are both consistent with coevolutionary selection and functionally relevant in specific cases; for example, preferential HLA targeting of conserved proteomic regions is associated with improved outcomes in HIV infection and with protection against dengue hemorrhagic fever. Efficiency analysis provides a novel perspective on the coevolutionary relationship between HLA class I molecular diversity, self-derived peptides that shape T-cell immunity through ontogeny, and the broad range of viruses that subsequently engage with the adaptive immune response.
Presentation of peptides by class I or class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules is required for the initiation and propagation of a T cell-mediated immune response. Peptides from the Wilms Tumor 1 transcription factor (WT1), upregulated in many hematopoetic and solid tumors, can be recognized by T cells and numerous efforts are underway to engineer WT1-based cancer vaccines. Here we determined the structures of the class I MHC molecule HLA-A*0201 bound to the native 126–134 epitope of the WT1 peptide and a recently described variant (R1Y) with improved MHC binding. The R1Y variant, a potential vaccine candidate, alters the positions of MHC charged side chains near the peptide N-terminus and significantly reduces the peptide/MHC electrostatic surface potential. These alterations indicate that the R1Y variant is an imperfect mimic of the native WT1 peptide, and suggest caution in its use as a therapeutic vaccine. Stability measurements revealed how the R1Y substitution enhances MHC binding affinity, and together with the structures suggest a strategy for engineering WT1 variants with improved MHC binding that retain the structural features of the native peptide/MHC complex.
peptide/MHC; structure; WT1; cancer vaccines; electrostatics
HLA-DM serves a critical function in the loading and editing of peptides on MHC class II molecules. Recent data showed that the interaction cycle between MHC class II molecules and HLA-DM is dependent on the occupancy state of the peptide binding groove. Empty MHC class II molecules form stable complexes with HLA-DM, which are disrupted by binding of high-affinity peptide. Interestingly, MHC class II molecules with fully engaged peptides cannot interact with HLA-DM, and prior dissociation of the peptide N-terminus from the groove is required for HLA-DM binding. There are significant similarities to the peptide loading process for MHC class I molecules, even though it is executed by a distinct set of proteins in a different cellular compartment.
To gain insight into the rules that govern the binding of endogenous and viral peptides to a given major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule, we characterized the amino acid sequences of a set of self peptides bound by a soluble analogue of murine H-2Ld, H-2Lds. We tested corresponding synthetic peptides quantitatively for binding in several different assays, and built three-dimensional computer models of eight peptide/H-2Lds complexes, based on the crystallographic structure of the human HLA-B27/peptide complex. Comparison of primary and tertiary structures of bound self and antigenic peptides revealed that residues 2 and 9 were not only restricted in sequence and tolerant of conservative substitutions, but were spatially constrained in the three-dimensional models. The degree of sequence variability of specific residues in MHC-restricted peptides reflected the lack of structural constraint on those amino acids. Thus, amino acid residues that define a peptide motif represent side chains required or preferred for a close fit with the MHC class I heavy chain.
The α/β T cell receptor (TCR) HA1.7 specific for the hemagglutinin (HA) antigen peptide from influenza A virus is HLA-DR1 restricted but cross-reactive for the HA peptide presented by the allo-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecule HLA-DR4. We report here the structure of the HA1.7/DR4/HA complex, determined by X-ray crystallography at a resolution of 2.4 Å. The overall structure of this complex is very similar to the previously reported structure of the HA1.7/DR1/HA complex. Amino acid sequence differences between DR1 and DR4, which are located deep in the peptide binding groove and out of reach for direct contact by the TCR, are able to indirectly influence the antigenicity of the pMHC surface by changing the conformation of HA peptide residues at position P5 and P6. Although TCR HA1.7 is cross-reactive for HA presented by DR1 and DR4 and tolerates these conformational differences, other HA-specific TCRs are sensitive to these changes. We also find a dependence of the width of the MHC class II peptide-binding groove on the sequence of the bound peptide by comparing the HA1.7/DR4/HA complex with the structure of DR4 presenting a collagen peptide. This structural study of TCR cross-reactivity emphasizes how MHC sequence differences can affect TCR binding indirectly by moving peptide atoms.
T cell receptor; MHC class II; cross-reactivity; antigen recognition; X-ray crystallography
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-encoded NK cell evasion functions include an MHC-I homologue (UL18) with high affinity for the leukocyte inhibitory receptor LIR-1 (CD85j, ILT2 or LILRB1) and a signal peptide (SPUL40) that acts by upregulating cell surface expression of HLA-E. Detailed characterization of SPUL40 revealed that the N-terminal 14 amino acid residues bestowed TAP-independent upregulation of HLA-E, while c-region sequences delayed processing of SPUL40 by a signal peptide peptidase-type intramembrane protease. Most significantly, the consensus HLA-E-binding epitope within SPUL40 was shown to promote cell surface expression of both HLA-E and gpUL18. UL40 was found to possess two transcription start sites, with utilization of the downstream site resulting in translational being initiated within the HLA-E-binding epitope (P2). Remarkably, this truncated SPUL40 was functional and retained the capacity to upregulate gpUL18, but not HLA-E. Our findings thus identify an elegant mechanism by which an HCMV signal peptide differentially regulates two distinct NK cell evasion pathways. Moreover, we describe a natural SPUL40 mutant that provides the first example of an HCMV clinical virus with a defect in an NK cell evasion function and exemplifies issues that confront the virus when adapting to immunogenetic diversity in the host.
Human; Natural Killer Cells; Viral; MHC; Cell Surface Molecules; Cytotoxicity; Gene Regulation