The cartography of β-cell epitopes targeted by CD8+ T cells in type 1 diabetic (T1D) patients remains largely confined to the common HLA-A2 restriction. We aimed to identify β-cell epitopes restricted by the HLA-B7 (B*07:02) molecule, which is associated with mild T1D protection. Using DNA immunization on HLA-B7–transgenic mice and prediction algorithms, we identified GAD and preproinsulin candidate epitopes. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot assays on peripheral blood mononuclear cells showed that most candidates were recognized by new-onset T1D patients, but not by type 2 diabetic and healthy subjects. Some epitopes were highly immunodominant and specific to either T1D children (GAD530–538; 44% T cell–positive patients) or adults (GAD311–320; 38%). All epitopes displayed weak binding affinity and stability for HLA-B7 compared with HLA-A2–restricted ones, a general feature of HLA-B7. Single-cell PCR analysis on β-cell–specific (HLA-B7 tetramer–positive) T cells revealed uniform IFN-γ and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) mRNA expression, different from HLA-A2–restricted T cells. We conclude that HLA-B7–restricted islet epitopes display weak HLA-binding profiles, are different in T1D children and adults, and are recognized by IFN-γ+TGF-β+CD8+ T cells. These features may explain the T1D-protective effect of HLA-B7. The novel epitopes identified should find valuable applications for immune staging of HLA-B7+ individuals.
Recent studies in the SIV-macaque model of HIV infection suggest that Nef-specific CD8+ T-cell responses may mediate highly effective immune control of viraemia. In HIV infection Nef recognition dominates in acute infection, but in large cohort studies of chronically infected subjects, breadth of T cell responses to Nef has not been correlated with significant viraemic control. Improved disease outcomes have instead been associated with targeting Gag and, in some cases, Pol. However analyses of the breadth of Nef-specific T cell responses have been confounded by the extreme immunogenicity and multiple epitope overlap within the central regions of Nef, making discrimination of distinct responses impossible via IFN-gamma ELISPOT assays. Thus an alternative approach to assess Nef as an immune target is needed. Here, we show in a cohort of >700 individuals with chronic C-clade infection that >50% of HLA-B-selected polymorphisms within Nef are associated with a predicted fitness cost to the virus, and that HLA-B alleles that successfully drive selection within Nef are those linked with lower viral loads. Furthermore, the specific CD8+ T cell epitopes that are restricted by protective HLA Class I alleles correspond substantially to effective SIV-specific epitopes in Nef. Distinguishing such individual HIV-specific responses within Nef requires specific peptide-MHC I tetramers. Overall, these data suggest that CD8+ T cell targeting of certain specific Nef epitopes contributes to HIV suppression. These data suggest that a re-evaluation of the potential use of Nef in HIV T-cell vaccine candidates would be justified.
Targeting CD4+ T cells through their unique antigen-specific, MHC class II-restricted T cell receptor makes MHC class II tetramers an attractive strategy to identify, validate and manipulate these cells at the single cell level. Currently, generating class II tetramers is a specialized undertaking effectively limiting their use and emphasizing the need for improved methods of production. Using class II chains expressed individually in E. coli as versatile recombinant reagents, we have previously generated peptide-MHC class II monomers, but failed to generate functional class II tetramers. Adding a monomer purification principle based upon affinity-tagged peptides, we here provide a robust method to produce class II tetramers and demonstrate staining of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. We also provide evidence that both MHC class II and T cell receptor molecules largely accept affinity-tagged peptides. As a general approach to class II tetramer generation, this method should support rational CD4+ T cell epitope discovery as well as enable specific monitoring and manipulation of CD4+ T cell responses.
The potential contribution of HLA-A alleles to viremic control in chronic HIV type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been relatively understudied compared with HLA-B. In these studies, we show that HLA-A*7401 is associated with favorable viremic control in extended southern African cohorts of >2100 C-clade–infected subjects. We present evidence that HLA-A*7401 operates an effect that is independent of HLA-B*5703, with which it is in linkage disequilibrium in some populations, to mediate lowered viremia. We describe a novel statistical approach to detecting additive effects between class I alleles in control of HIV-1 disease, highlighting improved viremic control in subjects with HLA-A*7401 combined with HLA-B*57. In common with HLA-B alleles that are associated with effective control of viremia, HLA-A*7401 presents highly targeted epitopes in several proteins, including Gag, Pol, Rev, and Nef, of which the Gag epitopes appear immunodominant. We identify eight novel putative HLA-A*7401–restricted epitopes, of which three have been defined to the optimal epitope. In common with HLA-B alleles linked with slow progression, viremic control through an HLA-A*7401–restricted response appears to be associated with the selection of escape mutants within Gag epitopes that reduce viral replicative capacity. These studies highlight the potentially important contribution of an HLA-A allele to immune control of HIV infection, which may have been concealed by a stronger effect mediated by an HLA-B allele with which it is in linkage disequilibrium. In addition, these studies identify a factor contributing to different HIV disease outcomes in individuals expressing HLA-B*5703.
The strongest genetic influence on immune control in HIV-1 infection is the HLA class I genotype. Rapid disease progression in B-clade infection has been linked to HLA-B*35 expression, in particular to the less common HLA-B*3502 and HLA-B*3503 subtypes but also to the most prevalent subtype, HLA-B*3501. In these studies we first demonstrated that whereas HLA-B*3501 is associated with a high viral set point in two further B-clade-infected cohorts, in Japan and Mexico, this association does not hold in two large C-clade-infected African cohorts. We tested the hypothesis that clade-specific differences in HLA associations with disease outcomes may be related to distinct targeting of critical CD8+ T-cell epitopes. We observed that only one epitope was significantly targeted differentially, namely, the Gag-specific epitope NPPIPVGDIY (NY10, Gag positions 253 to 262) (P = 2 × 10−5). In common with two other HLA-B*3501-restricted epitopes, in Gag and Nef, that were not targeted differentially, a response toward NY10 was associated with a significantly lower viral set point. Nonimmunogenicity of NY10 in B-clade-infected subjects derives from the Gag-D260E polymorphism present in ∼90% of B-clade sequences, which critically reduces recognition of the Gag NY10 epitope. These data suggest that in spite of any inherent HLA-linked T-cell receptor repertoire differences that may exist, maximizing the breadth of the Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell response, by the addition of even a single epitope, may be of overriding importance in achieving immune control of HIV infection. This distinction is of direct relevance to development of vaccines designed to optimize the anti-HIV CD8+ T-cell response in all individuals, irrespective of HLA type.
Genetic variation within the HLA-B locus has the strongest impact on HIV disease progression of any polymorphisms within the human genome. However, identifying the exact mechanism involved is complicated by several factors. HLA-Bw4 alleles provide ligands for NK cells and for CD8 T cells, and strong linkage disequilibrium between HLA class I alleles complicates the discrimination of individual HLA allelic effects from those of other HLA and non-HLA alleles on the same haplotype. Here, we exploit an experiment of nature involving two recently diverged HLA alleles, HLA-B*42:01 and HLA-B*42:02, which differ by only a single amino acid. Crucially, they occur primarily on identical HLA class I haplotypes and, as Bw6 alleles, do not act as NK cell ligands and are therefore largely unconfounded by other genetic factors. We show that in an outbred cohort (n = 2,093) of HIV C-clade-infected individuals, a single amino acid change at position 9 of the HLA-B molecule critically affects peptide binding and significantly alters the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes targeted, measured directly ex vivo by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay (P = 2 × 10−10) and functionally through CTL escape mutation (P = 2 × 10−8). HLA-B*42:01, which presents multiple Gag epitopes, is associated with a 0.52 log10 lower viral-load set point than HLA-B*42:02 (P = 0.02), which presents no p24 Gag epitopes. The magnitude of this effect from a single amino acid difference in the HLA-A*30:01/B*42/Cw*17:01 haplotype is equivalent to 75% of that of HLA-B*57:03, the most protective HLA class I allele in this population. This naturally controlled experiment represents perhaps the clearest demonstration of the direct impact of a particular HIV-specific CTL on disease control.
CD8+ T cells (TCD8) confer protective immunity against many infectious diseases, suggesting that microbial TCD8 determinants are promising vaccine targets. Nevertheless, current T cell antigen identification approaches do not discern which epitopes drive protective immunity during active infection — information that is critical for the rational design of TCD8-targeted vaccines. We employed a proteomics-based approach for large-scale discovery of naturally processed determinants derived from a complex pathogen, vaccinia virus (VACV), that are presented by the most frequent representatives of four major HLA class I supertypes. Immunologic characterization revealed that many previously unidentified VACV determinants were recognized by smallpox-vaccinated human peripheral blood cells in a variegated manner. Many such determinants were recognized by HLA class I–transgenic mouse immune TCD8 too and elicited protective TCD8 immunity against lethal intranasal VACV infection. Notably, efficient processing and stable presentation of immune determinants as well as the availability of naive TCD8 precursors were sufficient to drive a multifunctional, protective TCD8 response. Our approach uses fundamental insights into T cell epitope processing and presentation to define targets of protective TCD8 immunity within human pathogens that have complex proteomes, suggesting that this approach has general applicability in vaccine sciences.
We here report a novel phage display selection strategy enabling fast and easy selection of thermostabilized proteins. The approach is illustrated with stabilization of an aggregation-prone soluble single chain T cell receptor (scTCR) characteristic of the murine MOPC315 myeloma model. Random mutation scTCR phage libraries were prepared in E. coli over-expressing the periplasmic chaperone FkpA, and such over-expression during library preparation proved crucial for successful downstream selection. The thermostabilized scTCRmut variants selected were produced in high yields and isolated as monomers. Thus, the purified scTCRs could be studied with regard to specificity and equilibrium binding kinetics to pMHC using surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The results demonstrate a difference in affinity for pMHCs that display germ line or tumor-specific peptides which explains the tumor-specific reactivity of the TCR. This FkpA-assisted thermostabilization strategy extends the utility of recombinant TCRs and furthermore, may be of general use for efficient evolution of proteins.
Aberrant glycosylation of mucins and other extracellular proteins is an important event in carcinogenesis and the resulting cancer associated glycans have been suggested as targets in cancer immunotherapy. We assessed the role of O-linked GalNAc glycosylation on antigen uptake, processing, and presentation on MHC class I and II molecules. The effect of GalNAc O-glycosylation was monitored with a model system based on ovalbumin (OVA)-MUC1 fusion peptides (+/− glycosylation) loaded onto dendritic cells co-cultured with IL-2 secreting OVA peptide-specific T cell hybridomas. To evaluate the in vivo response to a cancer related tumor antigen, Balb/c or B6.Cg(CB)-Tg(HLA-A/H2-D)2Enge/J (HLA-A2 transgenic) mice were immunized with a non-glycosylated or GalNAc-glycosylated MUC1 derived peptide followed by comparison of T cell proliferation, IFN-γ release, and antibody induction. GalNAc-glycosylation promoted presentation of OVA-MUC1 fusion peptides by MHC class II molecules and the MUC1 antigen elicited specific Ab production and T cell proliferation in both Balb/c and HLA-A2 transgenic mice. In contrast, GalNAc-glycosylation inhibited the presentation of OVA-MUC1 fusion peptides by MHC class I and abolished MUC1 specific CD8+ T cell responses in HLA-A2 transgenic mice. GalNAc glycosylation of MUC1 antigen therefore facilitates uptake, MHC class II presentation, and antibody response but might block the antigen presentation to CD8+ T cells.
Antibodies empower numerous important scientific, clinical, diagnostic, and industrial applications. Ideally, the epitope(s) targeted by an antibody should be identified and characterized, thereby establishing antibody reactivity, highlighting possible cross-reactivities, and perhaps even warning against unwanted (e.g. autoimmune) reactivities. Antibodies target proteins as either conformational or linear epitopes. The latter are typically probed with peptides, but the cost of peptide screening programs tends to prohibit comprehensive specificity analysis. To perform high-throughput, high-resolution mapping of linear antibody epitopes, we have used ultrahigh-density peptide microarrays generating several hundred thousand different peptides per array. Using exhaustive length and substitution analysis, we have successfully examined the specificity of a panel of polyclonal antibodies raised against linear epitopes of the human proteome and obtained very detailed descriptions of the involved specificities. The epitopes identified ranged from 4 to 12 amino acids in size. In general, the antibodies were of exquisite specificity, frequently disallowing even single conservative substitutions. In several cases, multiple distinct epitopes could be identified for the same target protein, suggesting an efficient approach to the generation of paired antibodies. Two alternative epitope mapping approaches identified similar, although not necessarily identical, epitopes. These results show that ultrahigh-density peptide microarrays can be used for linear epitope mapping. With an upper theoretical limit of 2,000,000 individual peptides per array, these peptide microarrays may even be used for a systematic validation of antibodies at the proteomic level.
The genetic polymorphism that has the greatest impact on immune control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is expression of HLA-B*57. Understanding of the mechanism for this strong effect remains incomplete. HLA-B*57 alleles and the closely related HLA-B*5801 are often grouped together because of their similar peptide-binding motifs and HIV disease outcome associations. However, we show here that the apparently small differences between HLA-B*57 alleles, termed HLA-B*57 micropolymorphisms, have a significant impact on immune control of HIV. In a study cohort of >2,000 HIV C-clade-infected subjects from southern Africa, HLA-B*5703 is associated with a lower viral-load set point than HLA-B*5702 and HLA-B*5801 (medians, 5,980, 15,190, and 19,000 HIV copies/ml plasma; P = 0.24 and P = 0.0005). In order to better understand these observed differences in HLA-B*57/5801-mediated immune control of HIV, we undertook, in a study of >1,000 C-clade-infected subjects, a comprehensive analysis of the epitopes presented by these 3 alleles and of the selection pressure imposed on HIV by each response. In contrast to previous studies, we show that each of these three HLA alleles is characterized both by unique CD8+ T-cell specificities and by clear-cut differences in selection pressure imposed on the virus by those responses. These studies comprehensively define for the first time the CD8+ T-cell responses and immune selection pressures for which these protective alleles are responsible. These findings are consistent with HLA class I alleles mediating effective immune control of HIV through the number of p24 Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell responses generated that can drive significant selection pressure on the virus.
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 genomic region (called HLA) is extremely polymorphic comprising several thousand alleles, each encoding a distinct MHC molecule. The potentially unique specificity of the majority of HLA alleles that have been identified to date remains uncharacterized. Likewise, only a limited number of chimpanzee and rhesus macaque MHC class I molecules have been characterized experimentally. Here, we present NetMHCpan-2.0, a method that generates quantitative predictions of the affinity of any peptide–MHC class I interaction. NetMHCpan-2.0 has been trained on the hitherto largest set of quantitative MHC binding data available, covering HLA-A and HLA-B, as well as chimpanzee, rhesus macaque, gorilla, and mouse MHC class I molecules. We show that the NetMHCpan-2.0 method can accurately predict binding to uncharacterized HLA molecules, including HLA-C and HLA-G. Moreover, NetMHCpan-2.0 is demonstrated to accurately predict peptide binding to chimpanzee and macaque MHC class I molecules. The power of NetMHCpan-2.0 to guide immunologists in interpreting cellular immune responses in large out-bred populations is demonstrated. Further, we used NetMHCpan-2.0 to predict potential binding peptides for the pig MHC class I molecule SLA-1*0401. Ninety-three percent of the predicted peptides were demonstrated to bind stronger than 500 nM. The high performance of NetMHCpan-2.0 for non-human primates documents the method's ability to provide broad allelic coverage also beyond human MHC molecules. The method is available at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NetMHCpan.
MHC class I; Binding specificity; Non-human primates; Artificial neural networks; CTL epitopes
Synthetic peptides are widely used in immunological research as epitopes to stimulate their cognate T cells. These preparations are never completely pure, but trace contaminants are commonly revealed by mass spectrometry quality controls. In an effort to characterize novel major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I-restricted β-cell epitopes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, we identified islet-infiltrating CD8+ T cells recognizing a contaminating peptide. The amount of this contaminant was so small to be undetectable by direct mass spectrometry. Only after concentration by liquid chromatography, we observed a mass peak corresponding to an immunodominant islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP)206-214 epitope described in the literature. Generation of CD8+ T-cell clones recognizing IGRP206-214 using a novel method confirmed the identity of the contaminant, further underlining the immunodominance of IGRP206-214. If left undetected, minute impurities in synthetic peptide preparations may thus give spurious results.
Recent advances in high-throughput technologies have made it possible to generate both gene and protein sequence data at an unprecedented rate and scale thereby enabling entirely new “omics”-based approaches towards the analysis of complex biological processes. However, the amount and complexity of data that even a single experiment can produce seriously challenges researchers with limited bioinformatics expertise, who need to handle, analyze and interpret the data before it can be understood in a biological context. Thus, there is an unmet need for tools allowing non-bioinformatics users to interpret large data sets. We have recently developed a method, NNAlign, which is generally applicable to any biological problem where quantitative peptide data is available. This method efficiently identifies underlying sequence patterns by simultaneously aligning peptide sequences and identifying motifs associated with quantitative readouts. Here, we provide a web-based implementation of NNAlign allowing non-expert end-users to submit their data (optionally adjusting method parameters), and in return receive a trained method (including a visual representation of the identified motif) that subsequently can be used as prediction method and applied to unknown proteins/peptides. We have successfully applied this method to several different data sets including peptide microarray-derived sets containing more than 100,000 data points.
NNAlign is available online at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NNAlign.
Epitopes from all available full-length sequences of yellow fever virus (YFV) and dengue fever virus (DENV) restricted by Human Leukocyte Antigen class I (HLA-I) alleles covering 12 HLA-I supertypes were predicted using the NetCTL algorithm. A subset of 179 predicted YFV and 158 predicted DENV epitopes were selected using the EpiSelect algorithm to allow for optimal coverage of viral strains. The selected predicted epitopes were synthesized and approximately 75% were found to bind the predicted restricting HLA molecule with an affinity, KD, stronger than 500 nM. The immunogenicity of 25 HLA-A*02:01, 28 HLA-A*24:02 and 28 HLA-B*07:02 binding peptides was tested in three HLA-transgenic mice models and led to the identification of 17 HLA-A*02:01, 4 HLA-A*2402 and 4 HLA-B*07:02 immunogenic peptides. The immunogenic peptides bound HLA significantly stronger than the non-immunogenic peptides. All except one of the immunogenic peptides had KD below 100 nM and the peptides with KD below 5 nM were more likely to be immunogenic. In addition, all the immunogenic peptides that were identified as having a high functional avidity had KD below 20 nM. A*02:01 transgenic mice were also inoculated twice with the 17DD YFV vaccine strain. Three of the YFV A*02:01 restricted peptides activated T-cells from the infected mice in vitro. All three peptides that elicited responses had an HLA binding affinity of 2 nM or less. The results indicate the importance of the strength of HLA binding in shaping the immune response.
The association between HLA-B*2705 and the immune control of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has previously been linked to the targeting of the HLA-B*2705-restricted Gag epitope KRWIILGLNK (KK10) by CD8+ T cells. In order to better define the mechanisms of the HLA-B*2705 immune control of HIV, we first characterized the CD8+ T-cell responses of nine highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-naïve B*2705-positive subjects. Unexpectedly, we observed a strong response to an HLA-B*2705-restricted Pol epitope, KRKGGIGGY (KY9), in 8/9 subjects. The magnitude of the KY9 response was only marginally lower than that of the KK10-specific response (median, 695 versus 867 spot-forming cells [SFC]/million peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMCs]; not significant [NS]), and viral escape mutants were observed in both KY9 and KK10, resulting from selection pressure driven by the respective CD8+ T-cell response. By comparing inhibitions of viral replication by CD8+ T cells specific for the Gag KK10, Pol KY9, and Vpr VL9 HLA-B*2705-restricted epitopes, we observed a consistent hierarchy of antiviral efficacy (Gag KK10 > Pol KY9 > Vpr VL9). This hierarchy was associated with early recognition of HIV-1-infected cells, within 6 h of infection, by KK10- and KY9-specific CD8+ T cells but not until 18 h postinfection by VL9-specific CD8+ T cells. There was no association between antiviral efficacy and proliferative capacity, cytotoxicity, polyfunctionality, or T-cell receptor (TCR) avidity. These data are consistent with previous studies indicating an important role for the B*2705-Gag KK10 response in the control of HIV but also suggest a previously unrecognized role played by the subdominant Pol-specific KY9 response in HLA-B*2705-mediated control of HIV and that the recognition of HIV-infected cells by CD8+ T cells early in the viral life cycle may be important for viral containment in HIV-infected individuals.
Major Histocompatibility class II (MHC-II) molecules sample peptides from the extracellular space allowing the immune system to detect the presence of foreign microbes from this compartment. Prediction of MHC class II ligands is complicated by the open binding cleft of the MHC class II molecule, allowing binding of peptides extending out of the binding groove. Furthermore, only a few HLA-DR alleles have been characterized with a sufficient number of peptides (100–200 peptides per allele) to derive accurate description of their binding motif. Little work has been performed characterizing structural properties of MHC class II ligands. Here, we perform one such large-scale analysis. A large set of SYFPEITHI MHC class II ligands covering more than 20 different HLA-DR molecules was analyzed in terms of their secondary structure and surface exposure characteristics in the context of the native structure of the corresponding source protein. We demonstrated that MHC class II ligands are significantly more exposed and have significantly more coil content than other peptides in the same protein with similar predicted binding affinity. We next exploited this observation to derive an improved prediction method for MHC class II ligands by integrating prediction of MHC- peptide binding with prediction of surface exposure and protein secondary structure. This combined prediction method was shown to significantly outperform the state-of-the-art MHC class II peptide binding prediction method when used to identify MHC class II ligands. We also tried to integrate N- and O-glycosylation in our prediction methods but this additional information was found not to improve prediction performance. In summary, these findings strongly suggest that local structural properties influence antigen processing and/or the accessibility of peptides to the MHC class II molecule.
Binding of peptides to Major Histocompatibility class II (MHC-II) molecules play a central role in governing responses of the adaptive immune system. MHC-II molecules sample peptides from the extracellular space allowing the immune system to detect the presence of foreign microbes from this compartment. Predicting which peptides bind to an MHC-II molecule is therefore of pivotal importance for understanding the immune response and its effect on host-pathogen interactions. The experimental cost associated with characterizing the binding motif of an MHC-II molecule is significant and large efforts have therefore been placed in developing accurate computer methods capable of predicting this binding event. Prediction of peptide binding to MHC-II is complicated by the open binding cleft of the MHC-II molecule, allowing binding of peptides extending out of the binding groove. Moreover, the genes encoding the MHC molecules are immensely diverse leading to a large set of different MHC molecules each potentially binding a unique set of peptides. Characterizing each MHC-II molecule using peptide-screening binding assays is hence not a viable option.
Here, we present an MHC-II binding prediction algorithm aiming at dealing with these challenges. The method is a pan-specific version of the earlier published allele-specific NN-align algorithm and does not require any pre-alignment of the input data. This allows the method to benefit also from information from alleles covered by limited binding data. The method is evaluated on a large and diverse set of benchmark data, and is shown to significantly out-perform state-of-the-art MHC-II prediction methods. In particular, the method is found to boost the performance for alleles characterized by limited binding data where conventional allele-specific methods tend to achieve poor prediction accuracy.
The method thus shows great potential for efficient boosting the accuracy of MHC-II binding prediction, as accurate predictions can be obtained for novel alleles at highly reduced experimental costs. Pan-specific binding predictions can be obtained for all alleles with know protein sequence and the method can benefit by including data in the training from alleles even where only few binders are known. The method and benchmark data are available at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NetMHCIIpan-2.0
West Nile virus (WNV) is a growing threat to public health and a greater understanding of the immune response raised against WNV is important for the development of prophylactic and therapeutic strategies.
In a reverse-immunology approach, we used bioinformatics methods to predict WNV-specific CD8+ T cell epitopes and selected a set of peptides that constitutes maximum coverage of 20 fully-sequenced WNV strains. We then tested these putative epitopes for cellular reactivity in a cohort of WNV-infected patients. We identified 26 new CD8+ T cell epitopes, which we propose are restricted by 11 different HLA class I alleles. Aiming for optimal coverage of human populations, we suggest that 11 of these new WNV epitopes would be sufficient to cover from 48% to 93% of ethnic populations in various areas of the World.
The 26 identified CD8+ T cell epitopes contribute to our knowledge of the immune response against WNV infection and greatly extend the list of known WNV CD8+ T cell epitopes. A polytope incorporating these and other epitopes could possibly serve as the basis for a WNV vaccine.
Identification of human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA-I) restricted cytotoxic T cell (CTL) epitopes from influenza virus is of importance for the development of new effective peptide-based vaccines.
In the present work, bioinformatics was used to predict 9mer peptides derived from available influenza A viral proteins with binding affinity for at least one of the 12 HLA-I supertypes. The predicted peptides were then selected in a way that ensured maximal coverage of the available influenza A strains. One hundred and thirty one peptides were synthesized and their binding affinities for the HLA-I supertypes were measured in a biochemical assay. Influenza-specific T cell responses towards the peptides were quantified using IFNγ ELISPOT assays with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from adult healthy HLA-I typed donors as responder cells. Of the 131 peptides, 21 were found to induce T cell responses in 19 donors. In the ELISPOT assay, five peptides induced responses that could be totally blocked by the pan-specific anti-HLA-I antibody W6/32, whereas 15 peptides induced responses that could be completely blocked in the presence of the pan-specific anti-HLA class II (HLA-II) antibody IVA12. Blocking of HLA-II subtype reactivity revealed that 8 and 6 peptide responses were blocked by anti-HLA-DR and -DP antibodies, respectively. Peptide reactivity of PBMC depleted of CD4+ or CD8+ T cells prior to the ELISPOT culture revealed that effectors are either CD4+ (the majority of reactivities) or CD8+ T cells, never a mixture of these subsets. Three of the peptides, recognized by CD4+ T cells showed binding to recombinant DRA1*0101/DRB1*0401 or DRA1*0101/DRB5*0101 molecules in a recently developed biochemical assay.
HLA-I binding 9mer influenza virus-derived peptides induce in many cases CD4+ T cell responses restricted by HLA-II molecules.
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
Molecules of the class II major histocompability complex (MHC-II) specifically bind and present exogenously derived peptide epitopes to CD4+ T helper cells. The extreme polymorphism of the MHC-II hampers the complete analysis of peptide binding. It is also a significant hurdle in the generation of MHC-II molecules as reagents to study and manipulate specific T helper cell responses. Methods to generate functional MHC-II molecules recombinantly, and measure their interaction with peptides, would be highly desirable; however, no consensus methodology has yet emerged.
We generated α and β MHC-II chain constructs, where the membrane-spanning regions were replaced by dimerization motifs, and the C-terminal of the β chains was fused to a biotinylation signal peptide (BSP) allowing for in vivo biotinylation. These chains were produced separately as inclusion bodies in E. coli , extracted into urea, and purified under denaturing and non-reducing conditions using conventional column chromatography. Subsequently, diluting the two chains into a folding reaction with appropriate peptide resulted in efficient peptide-MHC-II complex formation. Several different formats of peptide-binding assay were developed including a homogeneous, non-radioactive, high-throughput (HTS) binding assay. Binding isotherms were generated allowing the affinities of interaction to be determined. The affinities of the best binders were found to be in the low nanomolar range. Recombinant MHC-II molecules and accompanying HTS peptide-binding assay were successfully developed for nine different MHC-II molecules including the DPA1*0103/DPB1*0401 (DP401) and DQA1*0501/DQB1*0201, where both α and β chains are polymorphic, illustrating the advantages of producing the two chains separately.
We have successfully developed versatile MHC-II resources, which may assist in the generation of MHC class II -wide reagents, data, and tools.
The structure of HLA-A*1101 in complex with a HBV peptide homologue is presented and discussed in the context of vaccine design.
A high-resolution structure of the human MHC-I molecule HLA-A*1101 is presented in which it forms a complex with a sequence homologue of a peptide that occurs naturally in hepatitis B virus DNA polymerase. The sequence of the bound peptide is AIMPARFYPK, while that of the corresponding natural peptide is LIMPARFYPK. The peptide does not make efficient use of the middle E pocket for binding, which leads to a rather superficial and exposed binding mode for the central peptide residues. Despite this, the peptide binds with high affinity (IC50 of 31 nM).
HLA-A*1101; major histocompatibility complex class I; hepatitis B; HBV; peptide decamer; vaccine development