Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (1218772)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

1.  Differential binding of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex-E2 (PDC-E2) epitopes by DRB1*08:01 and DRB1*11:01 is predicted by their structural motifs and correlates with disease risk1,2 
DRB1*08:01 (DR0801) and DRB1*11:01 (DR1101) are highly homologous alleles that have opposing effects on susceptibility to primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). DR0801 confers risk and shares a key feature with other HLA class II alleles that predispose to autoimmunity: a non-aspartic acid at beta57. DR1101 is associated with protection from PBC and its sequence includes an aspartic acid at beta57. To elucidate a mechanism for the opposing effects of these HLA alleles on PBC susceptibility we compared the features of epitopes presented by DR0801 and DR1101. First, we identified DR0801- and DR1101-restricted epitopes within multiple viral antigens, observing both shared and distinct epitopes. Since DR0801 is not well characterized, we deduced its motif by measuring binding affinities for a library of peptides, confirming its key features through structural modeling. DR0801 was distinct from DR1101 in its ability to accommodate charged residues within all but one of its binding pockets. In particular, DR0801 strongly preferred acidic residues in pocket 9. These findings were used to identify potentially antigenic sequences within PDC-E2 (an important hepatic auto-antigen) that contain a DR0801 motif. Four peptides bound to DR0801 with reasonable affinity, but only one of these bound to DR1101. Three peptides PDC-E2145-159, PDC-E2249-263, and PDC-E2629-643, elicited high affinity T cell responses in DR0801 subjects, implicating these as likely auto-reactive specificities. Therefore, the unique molecular features of DR0801 may lead to the selection of a distinct T cell repertoire that contributes to breakdown of self-tolerance in primary biliary cirrhosis while those of DR1101 promote tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3729472  PMID: 23543758
primary biliary cirrhosis; antigen presentation; CD4 T cells; peptide epitopes; HLA class II
2.  Disruption of Hydrogen Bonds between Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II and the Peptide N-Terminus Is Not Sufficient to Form a Human Leukocyte Antigen-DM Receptive State of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69228.
Peptide presentation by MHC class II is of critical importance to the function of CD4+ T cells. HLA-DM resides in the endosomal pathway and edits the peptide repertoire of newly synthesized MHC class II molecules before they are exported to the cell surface. HLA-DM ensures MHC class II molecules bind high affinity peptides by targeting unstable MHC class II:peptide complexes for peptide exchange. Research over the past decade has implicated the peptide N-terminus in modulating the ability of HLA-DM to target a given MHC class II:peptide combination. In particular, attention has been focused on both the hydrogen bonds between MHC class II and peptide, and the occupancy of the P1 anchor pocket. We sought to solve the crystal structure of a HLA-DR1 molecule containing a truncated hemagglutinin peptide missing three N-terminal residues compared to the full-length sequence (residues 306–318) to determine the nature of the MHC class II:peptide species that binds HLA-DM. Here we present structural evidence that HLA-DR1 that is loaded with a peptide truncated to the P1 anchor residue such that it cannot make select hydrogen bonds with the peptide N-terminus, adopts the same conformation as molecules loaded with full-length peptide. HLA-DR1:peptide combinations that were unable to engage up to four key hydrogen bonds were also unable to bind HLA-DM, while those truncated to the P2 residue bound well. These results indicate that the conformational changes in MHC class II molecules that are recognized by HLA-DM occur after disengagement of the P1 anchor residue.
PMCID: PMC3743349  PMID: 23976922
3.  The Endoplasmic Reticulum Lumenal Domain of the Adenovirus Type 2 E3-19K Protein Binds to Peptide-Filled and Peptide-Deficient HLA-A*1101 Molecules 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(21):13317-13325.
E3-19K is a type I membrane glycoprotein expressed by adenoviruses (Ads) to modulate host antiviral immune responses. We have developed an expression system for the endoplasmic reticulum lumenal domain (residues 1 to 100) of Ad type 2 E3-19K tagged with a C-terminal His6 sequence in baculovirus-infected insect cells. In this system, recombinant E3-19K is secreted into the culture medium. A characterization of soluble E3-19K by analytical ultracentrifugation and circular dichroism showed that the protein is monomeric and adopts a stable and correctly folded tertiary structure. Using a gel mobility shift assay and analytical ultracentrifugation, we showed that soluble E3-19K associates with soluble peptide-filled and peptide-deficient HLA-A*1101 molecules. This is the first example of a viral immunomodulatory protein that interacts with conformationally distinct forms of class I major histocompatibility complex molecules. The E3-19K/HLA-A*1101 complexes formed in a 1:1 stoichiometry with equilibrium dissociation constants (Kd) of 50 ± 10 nM for peptide-filled molecules and of about 10 μM for peptide-deficient molecules. A temperature-dependent proteolysis study revealed that the association of E3-19K with peptide-deficient HLA-A*1101 molecules stabilizes the binding groove. Importantly, our studies showed that peptide-deficient HLA-A*1101 molecules sequestered by E3-19K are capable of binding antigenic peptides and maturing into peptide-filled molecules. This firmly establishes that E3-19K does not block binding of antigenic peptides. Together, our results suggest that Ads have evolved to exploit the late and early stages of the class I antigen presentation pathway.
PMCID: PMC1262599  PMID: 16227254
4.  Cross-Allele Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Responses against 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza A Virus among HLA-A24 and HLA-A3 Supertype-Positive Individuals 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(24):13281-13294.
Lack of a universal vaccine against all serotypes of influenza A viruses and recent progress on T cell-related vaccines against influenza A virus illuminate the important role of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in anti-influenza virus immunity. However, the diverse HLA alleles among humans complicate virus-specific cellular immunity research, and elucidation of cross-HLA allele T cell responses to influenza virus specificity requires further detailed work. An ideal CTL epitope-based vaccine would cover a broad spectrum of epitope antigens presented by most, if not all, of the HLAs. Here, we evaluated the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus-specific T cell responses among the HLA-A24+ population using a rationally designed peptide pool during the 2009 pandemic. Unexpectedly, cross-HLA allele T cell responses against the influenza A virus peptides were detected among both HLA-A11+ and HLA-A24+ donors. Furthermore, we found cross-responses in the entire HLA-A3 supertype population (including HLA-A11, -A31, -A33, and -A30). The cross-allele antigenic peptides within the peptide pool were identified and characterized, and the crystal structures of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-peptide complexes were determined. The subsequent HLA-A24-defined cross-allele peptides recognized by the HLA-A11+ population were shown to mildly bind to the HLA-A*1101 molecule. Together with the structural models, these results partially explain the cross-allele responses. Our findings elucidate the promiscuity of the cross-allele T cell responses against influenza A viruses and are beneficial for the development of a T cell epitope-based vaccine applied in a broader population.
PMCID: PMC3503122  PMID: 23015716
5.  Human immunome, bioinformatic analyses using HLA supermotifs and the parasite genome, binding assays, studies of human T cell responses, and immunization of HLA-A*1101 transgenic mice including novel adjuvants provide a foundation for HLA-A03 restricted CD8+T cell epitope based, adjuvanted vaccine protective against Toxoplasma gondii 
Immunome Research  2010;6:12.
Toxoplasmosis causes loss of life, cognitive and motor function, and sight. A vaccine is greatly needed to prevent this disease. The purpose of this study was to use an immmunosense approach to develop a foundation for development of vaccines to protect humans with the HLA-A03 supertype. Three peptides had been identified with high binding scores for HLA-A03 supertypes using bioinformatic algorhythms, high measured binding affinity for HLA-A03 supertype molecules, and ability to elicit IFN-γ production by human HLA-A03 supertype peripheral blood CD8+ T cells from seropositive but not seronegative persons.
Herein, when these peptides were administered with the universal CD4+T cell epitope PADRE (AKFVAAWTLKAAA) and formulated as lipopeptides, or administered with GLA-SE either alone, or with Pam2Cys added, we found we successfully created preparations that induced IFN-γ and reduced parasite burden in HLA-A*1101(an HLA-A03 supertype allele) transgenic mice. GLA-SE is a novel emulsified synthetic TLR4 ligand that is known to facilitate development of T Helper 1 cell (TH1) responses. Then, so our peptides would include those expressed in tachyzoites, bradyzoites and sporozoites from both Type I and II parasites, we used our approaches which had identified the initial peptides. We identified additional peptides using bioinformatics, binding affinity assays, and study of responses of HLA-A03 human cells. Lastly, we found that immunization of HLA-A*1101 transgenic mice with all the pooled peptides administered with PADRE, GLA-SE, and Pam2Cys is an effective way to elicit IFN-γ producing CD8+ splenic T cells and protection. Immunizations included the following peptides together: KSFKDILPK (SAG1224-232); AMLTAFFLR (GRA6164-172); RSFKDLLKK (GRA7134-142); STFWPCLLR (SAG2C13-21); SSAYVFSVK(SPA250-258); and AVVSLLRLLK(SPA89-98). This immunization elicited robust protection, measured as reduced parasite burden using a luciferase transfected parasite, luciferin, this novel, HLA transgenic mouse model, and imaging with a Xenogen camera.
Toxoplasma gondii peptides elicit HLA-A03 restricted, IFN-γ producing, CD8+ T cells in humans and mice. These peptides administered with adjuvants reduce parasite burden in HLA-A*1101 transgenic mice. This work provides a foundation for immunosense based vaccines. It also defines novel adjuvants for newly identified peptides for vaccines to prevent toxoplasmosis in those with HLA-A03 supertype alleles.
PMCID: PMC3009956  PMID: 21129215
6.  Evaluation of MHC-II peptide binding prediction servers: applications for vaccine research 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9(Suppl 12):S22.
Initiation and regulation of immune responses in humans involves recognition of peptides presented by human leukocyte antigen class II (HLA-II) molecules. These peptides (HLA-II T-cell epitopes) are increasingly important as research targets for the development of vaccines and immunotherapies. HLA-II peptide binding studies involve multiple overlapping peptides spanning individual antigens, as well as complete viral proteomes. Antigen variation in pathogens and tumor antigens, and extensive polymorphism of HLA molecules increase the number of targets for screening studies. Experimental screening methods are expensive and time consuming and reagents are not readily available for many of the HLA class II molecules. Computational prediction methods complement experimental studies, minimize the number of validation experiments, and significantly speed up the epitope mapping process. We collected test data from four independent studies that involved 721 peptide binding assays. Full overlapping studies of four antigens identified binding affinity of 103 peptides to seven common HLA-DR molecules (DRB1*0101, 0301, 0401, 0701, 1101, 1301, and 1501). We used these data to analyze performance of 21 HLA-II binding prediction servers accessible through the WWW.
Because not all servers have predictors for all tested HLA-II molecules, we assessed a total of 113 predictors. The length of test peptides ranged from 15 to 19 amino acids. We tried three prediction strategies – the best 9-mer within the longer peptide, the average of best three 9-mer predictions, and the average of all 9-mer predictions within the longer peptide. The best strategy was the identification of a single best 9-mer within the longer peptide. Overall, measured by the receiver operating characteristic method (AROC), 17 predictors showed good (AROC > 0.8), 41 showed marginal (AROC > 0.7), and 55 showed poor performance (AROC < 0.7). Good performance predictors included HLA-DRB1*0101 (seven), 1101 (six), 0401 (three), and 0701 (one). The best individual predictor was NETMHCIIPAN, closely followed by PROPRED, IEDB (Consensus), and MULTIPRED (SVM). None of the individual predictors was shown to be suitable for prediction of promiscuous peptides. Current predictive capabilities allow prediction of only 50% of actual T-cell epitopes using practical thresholds.
The available HLA-II servers do not match prediction capabilities of HLA-I predictors. Currently available HLA-II prediction servers offer only a limited prediction accuracy and the development of improved predictors is needed for large-scale studies, such as proteome-wide epitope mapping. The requirements for accuracy of HLA-II binding predictions are stringent because of the substantial effect of false positives.
PMCID: PMC2638162  PMID: 19091022
7.  Association of HLA-DR1 with the allergic response to the major mugwort pollen allergen: molecular background 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:43.
Mugwort pollen allergens represent the main cause of pollinosis in late summer. The major allergen, Art v 1, contains only one single immunodominant, solely HLA-DR-restricted T cell epitope (Art v 125-36). The frequency of HLA-DRB1*01 is highly increased in mugwort-allergic individuals and HLA-DR1 serves as restriction element for Art v 125-36. However, Art v 125-36 also binds to HLA-DR4 with high affinity and DR1-restricted Art v 125-36 -specific T cell receptors can be activated by HLA-DR4 molecules. To understand the predominance of HLA-DR1 in mugwort allergy in spite of the degeneracy in HLA/peptide-binding and TCR-recognition, we investigated the molecular background of Art v 125-36 /MHC/TCR interactions in the context of HLA-DR1 compared to -DR4.
The majority of Art v 125-36 -specific T cell lines and clones from HLA-DR1 carrying, mugwort pollen-allergic donors reacted to synthetic and naturally processed Art v 1–peptides when presented by HLA-DR1 or HLA-DR4 expressing antigen presenting cells. However, at limiting peptide concentrations DR1 was more effective in T cell stimulation. In addition, the minimal epitope for 50% of Art v 125-36 -specific T cells was shorter for DR1 than for DR4. In vitro binding assays of Art v 125-36 mutant peptides to isolated DR1- and DR4-molecules indicated similar binding capacities and use of the same register. In silico simulation of Art v 125-36 binding to HLA-DR1 and -DR4 suggested similar binding of the central part of the peptide to either molecule, but a higher flexibility of the N- and C-terminal amino acids and detachment at the C-terminus in HLA-DR1.
The predominance of HLA-DR1 in the response to Art v 125-36 may be explained by subtle conformation changes of the peptide bound to DR1 compared to DR4. Computer simulation supported our experimental data by demonstrating differences in peptide mobility within the HLA-DR complex that may influence TCR-binding. We suggest that the minor differences observed in vitro may be more relevant in the microenvironment in vivo, so that only presentation by HLA-DR1, but not -DR4 permits successful T cell activation.
PMCID: PMC3522052  PMID: 22871092
HLA association; Peptide/MHC-class II-TCR interaction; T cell recognition; Allergen; Art v 1; Molecular dynamics simulation
8.  NetMHCpan, a Method for Quantitative Predictions of Peptide Binding to Any HLA-A and -B Locus Protein of Known Sequence 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e796.
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.
Principal Findings
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
PMCID: PMC1949492  PMID: 17726526
9.  Generation of functional HLA-DR*1101 tetramers receptive for loading with pathogen or tumour derived synthetic peptides 
BMC Immunology  2005;6:24.
MHC class I-peptide tetramers are currently utilised to characterize CD8+ T cell responses at single cell level. The generation and use of MHC class II tetramers to study antigen-specific CD4+ T cells appears less straightforward. Most MHC class II tetramers are produced with a homogeneously built-in peptide, reducing greatly their flexibility of use. We attempted the generation of "empty" functional HLA-DR*1101 tetramers, receptive for loading with synthetic peptides by incubation. No such reagent is in fact available for this HLA-DR allele, one of the most frequent in the Caucasian population.
We compared soluble MHC class II-immunoglobulin fusion proteins (HLA-DR*1101-Ig) with soluble MHC class II protein fused with an optimised Bir site for enzymatic biotynilation (HLA-DR*1101-Bir), both produced in insect cells. The molecules were multimerised by binding fluorochrome-protein A or fluorochrome-streptavidin, respectively. We find that HLA-DR*1101-Bir molecules are superior to the HLA-DR*1101-Ig ones both in biochemical and functional terms. HLA-DR*1101-Bir molecules can be pulsed with at least three different promiscuous peptide epitopes, derived from Tetanus Toxoid, influenza HA and the tumour associated antigen MAGE-3 respectively, to stain specific CD4+ T cells. Both staining temperature and activation state of CD4+ T cells are critical for the binding of peptide-pulsed HLA-DR*1101-Bir to the cognate TCR.
It is therefore possible to generate a soluble recombinant HLA-DR*1101 backbone that is receptive for loading with different peptides to stain specific CD4+ T cells. As shown for other HLA-DR alleles, we confirm that not all the strategies to produce soluble HLA-DR*1101 multimers are equivalent.
PMCID: PMC1325046  PMID: 16329759
10.  T-cell responses in two unrelated hemophilia A inhibitor subjects include an epitope at the factor VIII R593C missense site 
Development of neutralizing anti-factor (F)VIII antibodies (‘inhibitors’) is a serious clinical problem in hemophilia A. Increased inhibitor risk has been associated with certain FVIII missense substitutions, including R593C in the A2 domain.
The aim of the present study was to identify T-cell epitopes in FVIII and characterize T-cell responses in two unrelated hemophilia A subjects sharing F8-R593C andHLA-DRB1*1101 genotypes. We hypothesized that the hemophilic substitution site coincides with an important T-cell epitope.
The binding affinities of peptides for recombinant HLA-DR proteins were measured and compared with epitope prediction results. CD4+ T cells were stimulated using peptides and stained with fluorescent, peptide-loaded tetramers.
The inhibitor subjects, but not HLA-matched controls, had high-avidity HLA-DRB1* 1101-restricted T-cell responses against FVIII589–608, which contains the hemophilic missense site. Antigen-specific T cells secreted Th1 and Th2 cytokines and proliferated in response to FVIII and FVIII592–603. FVIII589–608 bound with physiologically relevant (micromolar) IC50 values to recombinant DR0101, DR1101 and DR1501 proteins.
Hemophilia A patients with R593C missense substitutions and these HLA haplotypes had an increased incidence of inhibitors in our cohorts, supporting a paradigm in which presentation of FVIII epitopes containing the wild-type R593 influences inhibitor risk in this hemophilia A sub-population.
PMCID: PMC4323178  PMID: 21251204
factor VIII; hemophilia A; HLA; inhibitor; T-cell clones
11.  Establishment of HLA-DR4 Transgenic Mice for the Identification of CD4+ T Cell Epitopes of Tumor-Associated Antigens 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84908.
Reports have shown that activation of tumor-specific CD4+ helper T (Th) cells is crucial for effective anti-tumor immunity and identification of Th-cell epitopes is critical for peptide vaccine-based cancer immunotherapy. Although computer algorithms are available to predict peptides with high binding affinity to a specific HLA class II molecule, the ability of those peptides to induce Th-cell responses must be evaluated. We have established HLA-DR4 (HLA-DRA*01:01/HLA-DRB1*04:05) transgenic mice (Tgm), since this HLA-DR allele is most frequent (13.6%) in Japanese population, to evaluate HLA-DR4-restricted Th-cell responses to tumor-associated antigen (TAA)-derived peptides predicted to bind to HLA-DR4. To avoid weak binding between mouse CD4 and HLA-DR4, Tgm were designed to express chimeric HLA-DR4/I-Ed, where I-Ed α1 and β1 domains were replaced with those from HLA-DR4. Th cells isolated from Tgm immunized with adjuvant and HLA-DR4-binding cytomegalovirus-derived peptide proliferated when stimulated with peptide-pulsed HLA-DR4-transduced mouse L cells, indicating chimeric HLA-DR4/I-Ed has equivalent antigen presenting capacity to HLA-DR4. Immunization with CDCA155-78 peptide, a computer algorithm-predicted HLA-DR4-binding peptide derived from TAA CDCA1, successfully induced Th-cell responses in Tgm, while immunization of HLA-DR4-binding Wilms' tumor 1 antigen-derived peptide with identical amino acid sequence to mouse ortholog failed. This was overcome by using peptide-pulsed syngeneic bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BM-DC) followed by immunization with peptide/CFA booster. BM-DC-based immunization of KIF20A494-517 peptide from another TAA KIF20A, with an almost identical HLA-binding core amino acid sequence to mouse ortholog, successfully induced Th-cell responses in Tgm. Notably, both CDCA155-78 and KIF20A494-517 peptides induced human Th-cell responses in PBMCs from HLA-DR4-positive donors. Finally, an HLA-DR4 binding DEPDC1191-213 peptide from a new TAA DEPDC1 overexpressed in bladder cancer induced strong Th-cell responses both in Tgm and in PBMCs from an HLA-DR4-positive donor. Thus, the HLA-DR4 Tgm combined with computer algorithm was useful for preliminary screening of candidate peptides for vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3875545  PMID: 24386437
12.  The Structure and Stability of the Monomorphic HLA-G Are Influenced by the Nature of the Bound Peptide 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;397(2):467-480.
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.
PMCID: PMC2905647  PMID: 20122941
human leukocyte antigen G, HLA-G; structural immunology; innate immunity; antigen presentation; adaptive immunity
13.  The Immunodominant Influenza A Virus M158–66 Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Epitope Exhibits Degenerate Class I Major Histocompatibility Complex Restriction in Humans 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(18):10613-10623.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognizing conserved peptide epitopes are crucial for protection against influenza A virus (IAV) infection. The CD8 T cell response against the M158–66 (GILGFVFTL) matrix protein epitope is immunodominant when restricted by HLA-A*02, a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule expressed by approximately half of the human population. Here we report that the GILGFVFTL peptide is restricted by multiple HLA-C*08 alleles as well. We observed that M158–66 was able to elicit cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses in both HLA-A*02- and HLA-C*08-positive individuals and that GILGFVFTL-specific CTLs in individuals expressing both restriction elements were distinct and not cross-reactive. The crystal structure of GILGFVFTL–HLA-C*08:01 was solved at 1.84 Å, and comparison with the known GILGFVFTL–HLA-A*02:01 structure revealed that the antigen bound both complexes in near-identical conformations, accommodated by binding pockets shaped from shared as well as unique residues. This discovery of degenerate peptide presentation by both HLA-A and HLA-C allelic variants eliciting unique CTL responses to IAV infection contributes fundamental knowledge with important implications for vaccine development strategies.
IMPORTANCE The presentation of influenza A virus peptides to elicit immunity is thought to be narrowly restricted, with a single peptide presented by a specific HLA molecule. In this study, we show that the same influenza A virus peptide can be more broadly presented by both HLA-A and HLA-C molecules. This discovery may help to explain the differences in immunity to influenza A virus between individuals and populations and may also aid in the design of vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4178881  PMID: 24990997
14.  Structural mimicry between SLA/LP and Rickettsia surface antigens as a driver of autoimmune hepatitis: insights from an in silico study 
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a chronic, progressive liver disease, characterized by continuing hepatocellular inflammation and necrosis. A subgroup of AIH patients presents specific autoantibodies to soluble liver antigen/liver-pancreas (SLA/LP) protein, which is regarded as a highly specific diagnostic marker. Autoantigenic SLA/LP peptides are targeted by CD4+ T cells, and restricted by the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01, which confers disease susceptibility in Europeans and Americans. A positively charged residue at position 71 has been indicated as critical for AIH susceptibility in all of the HLA alleles identified to date. Though the exact molecular mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of AIH are not clear, molecular mimicry between SLA/LP and viral/bacterial antigens has been invoked.
The immunodominant region of SLA/LP was used as query in databank searches to identify statistically significant similarities with viral/bacterial peptides. Homology modeling and docking was used to investigate the potential interaction of HLA-DRB1*03:01 with the identified peptides. By molecular mechanics means, the interactions and energy of binding at the HLA binding site was also scrutinized.
A statistically significant structural similarity between the immunodominant regions of SLA/LP and a region of the surface antigen PS 120 from Rickettsia spp. has been detected. The interaction of the SLA/LP autoepitope and the corresponding Rickettsia sequence with the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01 has been simulated. The obtained results predict for both peptides a similar binding mode and affinity to HLA-DRB1*03:01. A “hot spot” of interaction between HLA-DRB1*03:01 and PS 120 is located at the P4 binding pocket, and is represented by a salt bridge involving Lys at position 71 of the HLA protein, and Glu 795 of PS120 peptide.
These findings strongly support the notion that a molecular mimicry mechanism can trigger AIH onset. CD4+ T cells recognizing peptides of SLA/LP could indeed cross-react with foreign Rickettsia spp. antigens. Finally, the same analysis suggests a molecular explanation for the importance of position 71 in conferring the susceptibility of the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01 to AIH. The lack of a positive charge at such position could prevent HLA alleles from binding the foreign peptides and triggering the molecular mimicry event.
PMCID: PMC3636016  PMID: 23575112
Autoimmune hepatitis; Molecular mimicry; Rickettsia; SLA/LP; Peptide conformation; PLP-dependent enzymes; HLA-DRB1*03:01
15.  Rational Design of a Multiepitope Vaccine Encoding T-Lymphocyte Epitopes for Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infections▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(1):435-450.
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.
PMCID: PMC2224390  PMID: 17942551
16.  Crystal Structure of Staphylococcal Enterotoxin I (SEI) in Complex with a Human Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Molecule* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(35):25356-25364.
Superantigens are bacterial or viral proteins that elicit massive T cell activation through simultaneous binding to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and T cell receptors. This activation results in uncontrolled release of inflammatory cytokines, causing toxic shock. A remarkable property of superantigens, which distinguishes them from T cell receptors, is their ability to interact with multiple MHC class II alleles independently of MHC-bound peptide. Previous crystallographic studies have shown that staphylococcal and streptococcal superantigens belonging to the zinc family bind to a high affinity site on the class II β-chain. However, the basis for promiscuous MHC recognition by zinc-dependent superantigens is not obvious, because the β-chain is polymorphic and the MHC-bound peptide forms part of the binding interface. To understand how zinc-dependent superantigens recognize MHC, we determined the crystal structure, at 2.0 Å resolution, of staphylococcal enterotoxin I bound to the human class II molecule HLA-DR1 bearing a peptide from influenza hemagglutinin. Interactions between the superantigen and DR1 β-chain are mediated by a zinc ion, and 22% of the buried surface of peptide·MHC is contributed by the peptide. Comparison of the staphylococcal enterotoxin I·peptide·DR1 structure with ones determined previously revealed that zinc-dependent superantigens achieve promiscuous binding to MHC by targeting conservatively substituted residues of the polymorphic β-chain. Additionally, these superantigens circumvent peptide specificity by engaging MHC-bound peptides at their conformationally conserved N-terminal regions while minimizing sequence-specific interactions with peptide residues to enhance cross-reactivity.
PMCID: PMC2730046  PMID: 16829512
17.  Structure of a SARS coronavirus-derived peptide bound to the human major histocompatibility complex class I molecule HLA-B*1501 
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.
PMCID: PMC2496847  PMID: 18540051
human leukocyte antigen class I; SARS coronavirus-derived peptides; HLA-B*1501
18.  Crystal Structures Reveal the Multi-Ligand Binding Mechanism of Staphylococcus aureus ClfB 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002751.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) pathogenesis is a complex process involving a diverse array of extracellular and cell wall components. ClfB, an MSCRAMM (Microbial Surface Components Recognizing Adhesive Matrix Molecules) family surface protein, described as a fibrinogen-binding clumping factor, is a key determinant of S. aureus nasal colonization, but the molecular basis for ClfB-ligand recognition remains unknown. In this study, we solved the crystal structures of apo-ClfB and its complexes with fibrinogen α (Fg α) and cytokeratin 10 (CK10) peptides. Structural comparison revealed a conserved glycine-serine-rich (GSR) ClfB binding motif (GSSGXGXXG) within the ligands, which was also found in other human proteins such as Engrailed protein, TCF20 and Dermokine proteins. Interaction between Dermokine and ClfB was confirmed by subsequent binding assays. The crystal structure of ClfB complexed with a 15-residue peptide derived from Dermokine revealed the same peptide binding mode of ClfB as identified in the crystal structures of ClfB-Fg α and ClfB-CK10. The results presented here highlight the multi-ligand binding property of ClfB, which is very distinct from other characterized MSCRAMMs to-date. The adherence of multiple peptides carrying the GSR motif into the same pocket in ClfB is reminiscent of MHC molecules. Our results provide a template for the identification of other molecules targeted by S. aureus during its colonization and infection. We propose that other MSCRAMMs like ClfA and SdrG also possess multi-ligand binding properties.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), an important opportunistic pathogen, is a major threat to humans and animals, causing high morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is responsible for a variety of infections ranging from mild superficial infections to severe infections such as infective endocarditis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis and sepsis. Such infections are of growing concern due to the increasing antibiotic resistance of S. aureus. In order to understand the mechanism of the S. aureus pathogenesis, we studied one of the bacterial surface proteins clumping factor B (ClfB) bound by the fibrinogen α (Fg α) and cytokeratin 10 (CK10). From analyses of the high resolution crystal structures we found that the ClfB-binding peptides harbor a stretch with consensus sequence (GSSGXGXXG) that is also conserved in Engrailed protein, TCF20 and Dermokines. The interaction between ClfB and a dermokine-derived peptide was demonstrated using binding assays. Consistent with a role of ClfB in the inflammatory responses induced by S. aureus, expression of dermokines is predominant in epithelial tissues and upregulated in inflammatory diseases. The data presented in this study raise a possibility that multiple human proteins are targeted by ClfB during S. aureus infection. The multi-ligand binding feature of ClfB would be valuable for developing new therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3375286  PMID: 22719251
19.  Peptide binding prediction for the human class II MHC allele HLA-DP2: a molecular docking approach 
MHC class II proteins bind oligopeptide fragments derived from proteolysis of pathogen antigens, presenting them at the cell surface for recognition by CD4+ T cells. Human MHC class II alleles are grouped into three loci: HLA-DP, HLA-DQ and HLA-DR. In contrast to HLA-DR and HLA-DQ, HLA-DP proteins have not been studied extensively, as they have been viewed as less important in immune responses than DRs and DQs. However, it is now known that HLA-DP alleles are associated with many autoimmune diseases. Quite recently, the X-ray structure of the HLA-DP2 molecule (DPA*0103, DPB1*0201) in complex with a self-peptide derived from the HLA-DR α-chain has been determined. In the present study, we applied a validated molecular docking protocol to a library of 247 modelled peptide-DP2 complexes, seeking to assess the contribution made by each of the 20 naturally occurred amino acids at each of the nine binding core peptide positions and the four flanking residues (two on both sides).
The free binding energies (FBEs) derived from the docking experiments were normalized on a position-dependent (npp) and on an overall basis (nap), and two docking score-based quantitative matrices (DS-QMs) were derived: QMnpp and QMnap. They reveal the amino acid preferences at each of the 13 positions considered in the study. Apart from the leading role of anchor positions p1 and p6, the binding to HLA-DP2 depends on the preferences at p2. No effect of the flanking residues was found on the peptide binding predictions to DP2, although all four of them show strong preferences for particular amino acids. The predictive ability of the DS-QMs was tested using a set of 457 known binders to HLA-DP2, originating from 24 proteins. The sensitivities of the predictions at five different thresholds (5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25%) were calculated and compared to the predictions made by the NetMHCII and IEDB servers. Analysis of the DS-QMs indicated an improvement in performance. Additionally, DS-QMs identified the binding cores of several known DP2 binders.
The molecular docking protocol, as applied to a combinatorial library of peptides, models the peptide-HLA-DP2 protein interaction effectively, generating reliable predictions in a quantitative assessment. The method is structure-based and does not require extensive experimental sequence-based data. Thus, it is universal and can be applied to model any peptide - protein interaction.
PMCID: PMC3146810  PMID: 21752305
20.  Abacavir induces loading of novel self-peptides into HLA-B*57:01: an autoimmune model for HLA-associated drug hypersensitivity 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(11):F21-F29.
Abacavir drug hypersensitivity in HIV-treated patients is associated with HLA-B*57:01 expression. To understand the immunochemistry of abacavir drug reactions, we investigated the effects of abacavir on HLA-B*57:01 epitope-binding in vitro and the quality and quantity of self-peptides presented by HLA-B*57:01 from abacavir-treated cells.
Design and methods
An HLA-B*57:01-specific epitope-binding assay was developed to test for effects of abacavir, didanosine or flucloxacillin on self-peptide binding. To examine whether abacavir alters the peptide repertoire in HLA-B*57:01, a B-cell line secreting soluble human leucocyte antigen (sHLA) was cultured in the presence or absence of abacavir, peptides were eluted from purified human leucocyte antigen (HLA), and the peptide epitopes comparatively mapped by mass spectroscopy to identify drug-unique peptides.
Abacavir, but not didansosine or flucloxacillin, enhanced binding of the FITC-labeled self-peptide LF9 to HLA-B*57:01 in a dose-dependent manner. Endogenous peptides isolated from abacavir-treated HLA-B*57:01 B cells showed amino acid sequence differences compared with peptides from untreated cells. Novel drug-induced peptides lacked typical carboxyl (C) terminal amino acids characteristic of the HLA-B*57:01 peptide motif and instead contained predominantly isoleucine or leucine residues. Drug-induced peptides bind to soluble HLA-B*57:01 with high affinity that was not altered by abacavir addition.
Our results support a model of drug-induced autoimmunity in which abacavir alters the quantity and quality of self-peptide loading into HLA-B*57:01. Drug-induced loading of novel self-peptides into HLA, possibly by abacavir either altering the binding cleft or modifying the peptide-loading complex, generates an array of neo-antigen peptides that drive polyclonal T-cell autoimmune responses and multiorgan systemic toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4155923  PMID: 22617051
abacavir; antiretroviral therapy; autoimmunity; drug hypersensitivity; HIV; human leucocyte antigen; pharmocogenetics
21.  Highly Divergent T-cell Receptor Binding Modes Underlie Specific Recognition of a Bulged Viral Peptide bound to a Human Leukocyte Antigen Class I Molecule* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(22):15442-15454.
Background: The mechanisms by which T cell receptors (TCRs) engage lengthy peptides bound to human leukocyte antigens (HLA) is unclear.
Results: We have determined the structures of two TCRs binding to a 13-residue bulged peptide presented by HLA-B*35:08.
Conclusion: TCRs can adopt markedly differing docking strategies upon engaging lengthy bulged peptides.
Significance: The human T-cell repertoire is sufficiently robust to deal with viral determinants of atypical length.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-I molecules can present long peptides, yet the mechanisms by which T-cell receptors (TCRs) recognize featured pHLA-I landscapes are unclear. We compared the binding modes of three distinct human TCRs, CA5, SB27, and SB47, complexed with a “super-bulged” viral peptide (LPEPLPQGQLTAY) restricted by HLA-B*35:08. The CA5 and SB27 TCRs engaged HLA-B*35:08LPEP similarly, straddling the central region of the peptide but making limited contacts with HLA-B*35:08. Remarkably, the CA5 TCR did not contact the α1-helix of HLA-B*35:08. Differences in the CDR3β loop between the CA5 and SB27 TCRs caused altered fine specificities. Surprisingly, the SB47 TCR engaged HLA-B*35:08LPEP using a completely distinct binding mechanism, namely “bypassing” the bulged peptide and making extensive contacts with the extreme N-terminal end of HLA-B*35:08. This docking footprint included HLA-I residues not observed previously as TCR contact sites. The three TCRs exhibited differing patterns of alloreactivity toward closely related or distinct HLA-I allotypes. Thus, the human T-cell repertoire comprises a range of TCRs that can interact with “bulged” pHLA-I epitopes using unpredictable strategies, including the adoption of atypical footprints on the MHC-I.
PMCID: PMC3668706  PMID: 23569211
Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC); Structural Biology; T-cell Receptor; Viral Immunology; X-ray Crystallography
22.  Towards Universal Structure-Based Prediction of Class II MHC Epitopes for Diverse Allotypes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14383.
The binding of peptide fragments of antigens to class II MHC proteins is a crucial step in initiating a helper T cell immune response. The discovery of these peptide epitopes is important for understanding the normal immune response and its misregulation in autoimmunity and allergies and also for vaccine design. In spite of their biomedical importance, the high diversity of class II MHC proteins combined with the large number of possible peptide sequences make comprehensive experimental determination of epitopes for all MHC allotypes infeasible. Computational methods can address this need by predicting epitopes for a particular MHC allotype. We present a structure-based method for predicting class II epitopes that combines molecular mechanics docking of a fully flexible peptide into the MHC binding cleft followed by binding affinity prediction using a machine learning classifier trained on interaction energy components calculated from the docking solution. Although the primary advantage of structure-based prediction methods over the commonly employed sequence-based methods is their applicability to essentially any MHC allotype, this has not yet been convincingly demonstrated. In order to test the transferability of the prediction method to different MHC proteins, we trained the scoring method on binding data for DRB1*0101 and used it to make predictions for multiple MHC allotypes with distinct peptide binding specificities including representatives from the other human class II MHC loci, HLA-DP and HLA-DQ, as well as for two murine allotypes. The results showed that the prediction method was able to achieve significant discrimination between epitope and non-epitope peptides for all MHC allotypes examined, based on AUC values in the range 0.632–0.821. We also discuss how accounting for peptide binding in multiple registers to class II MHC largely explains the systematically worse performance of prediction methods for class II MHC compared with those for class I MHC based on quantitative prediction performance estimates for peptide binding to class II MHC in a fixed register.
PMCID: PMC3004863  PMID: 21187956
23.  Varicella-Zoster Virus-Derived Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I-Restricted Peptide Affinity Is a Determining Factor in the HLA Risk Profile for the Development of Postherpetic Neuralgia 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(2):962-969.
Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common complication of herpes zoster and is typified by a lingering pain that can last months or years after the characteristic herpes zoster rash disappears. It is well known that there are risk factors for the development of PHN, such as its association with certain HLA alleles. In this study, previous HLA genotyping results were collected and subjected to a meta-analysis with increased statistical power. This work shows that the alleles HLA-A*33 and HLA-B*44 are significantly enriched in PHN patients, while HLA-A*02 and HLA-B*40 are significantly depleted. Prediction of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) peptide affinity for these four HLA variants by using one in-house-developed and two existing state-of-the-art major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligand prediction methods reveals that there is a great difference in their absolute and relative peptide binding repertoires. It was observed that HLA-A*02 displays a high affinity for an ∼7-fold-higher number of VZV peptides than HLA-B*44. Furthermore, after correction for HLA allele-specific limitations, the relative affinity of HLA-A*33 and HLA-B*44 for VZV peptides was found to be significantly lower than those of HLA-A*02 and HLA-B*40. In addition, HLA peptide affinity calculations indicate strong trends for VZV to avoid high-affinity peptides in some of its proteins, independent of the studied HLA allele.
IMPORTANCE Varicella-zoster virus can cause two distinct diseases: chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster). Varicella is a common disease in young children, while herpes zoster is more frequent in older individuals. A common complication of herpes zoster is postherpetic neuralgia, a persistent and debilitating pain that can remain months up to years after the resolution of the rash. In this study, we show that the relative affinity of HLA variants associated with higher postherpetic neuralgia risk for varicella-zoster virus peptides is lower than that of variants with a lower risk. These results provide new insight into the development of postherpetic neuralgia and strongly support the hypothesis that one of its possible underlying causes is a suboptimal anti-VZV immune response due to weak HLA binding peptide affinity.
PMCID: PMC4300672  PMID: 25355886
24.  Evaluation of MHC class I peptide binding prediction servers: Applications for vaccine research 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:8.
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.
PMCID: PMC2323361  PMID: 18366636
25.  TEPITOPEpan: Extending TEPITOPE for Peptide Binding Prediction Covering over 700 HLA-DR Molecules 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30483.
Accurate identification of peptides binding to specific Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II (MHC-II) molecules is of great importance for elucidating the underlying mechanism of immune recognition, as well as for developing effective epitope-based vaccines and promising immunotherapies for many severe diseases. Due to extreme polymorphism of MHC-II alleles and the high cost of biochemical experiments, the development of computational methods for accurate prediction of binding peptides of MHC-II molecules, particularly for the ones with few or no experimental data, has become a topic of increasing interest. TEPITOPE is a well-used computational approach because of its good interpretability and relatively high performance. However, TEPITOPE can be applied to only 51 out of over 700 known HLA DR molecules.
We have developed a new method, called TEPITOPEpan, by extrapolating from the binding specificities of HLA DR molecules characterized by TEPITOPE to those uncharacterized. First, each HLA-DR binding pocket is represented by amino acid residues that have close contact with the corresponding peptide binding core residues. Then the pocket similarity between two HLA-DR molecules is calculated as the sequence similarity of the residues. Finally, for an uncharacterized HLA-DR molecule, the binding specificity of each pocket is computed as a weighted average in pocket binding specificities over HLA-DR molecules characterized by TEPITOPE.
The performance of TEPITOPEpan has been extensively evaluated using various data sets from different viewpoints: predicting MHC binding peptides, identifying HLA ligands and T-cell epitopes and recognizing binding cores. Among the four state-of-the-art competing pan-specific methods, for predicting binding specificities of unknown HLA-DR molecules, TEPITOPEpan was roughly the second best method next to NETMHCIIpan-2.0. Additionally, TEPITOPEpan achieved the best performance in recognizing binding cores. We further analyzed the motifs detected by TEPITOPEpan, examining the corresponding literature of immunology. Its online server and PSSMs therein are available at
PMCID: PMC3285624  PMID: 22383964

Results 1-25 (1218772)