The antigens recognized by individual CD8+ T cells are small peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The CD8+ T cell response to a virus is restricted to several peptides, and the magnitudes of the effector as well as memory phases of the response to the individual peptides are generally hierarchical. The peptide eliciting a stronger response is called immunodominant (ID), and those with smaller-magnitude responses are termed subdominant (SD). The relative importance of ID and SD determinants in protective immunity remains to be fully elucidated. We previously showed that multispecific memory CD8+ T cells can protect susceptible mice from mousepox, an acute lethal viral disease. It remained unknown, however, whether CD8+ T cells specific for single ID or SD peptides could be protective. Here, we demonstrate that immunization with dendritic cells pulsed with ID and some but not all SD peptides induces memory CD8+ T cells that are fully capable of protecting susceptible mice from mousepox. Additionally, while natural killer (NK) cells are essential for the natural resistance of nonimmune C57BL/6 (B6) to mousepox, we show that memory CD8+ T cells of single specificity also protect B6 mice depleted of NK cells. This suggests it is feasible to produce effective antiviral CD8+ T cell vaccines using single CD8+ T cell determinants and that NK cells are no longer essential when memory CD8+ T cells are present.
The yellow fever vaccines (YF-17D-204 and 17DD) are considered to be among the safest vaccines and the presence of neutralizing antibodies is correlated with protection, although other immune effector mechanisms are known to be involved. T-cell responses are known to play an important role modulating antibody production and the killing of infected cells. However, little is known about the repertoire of T-cell responses elicited by the YF-17DD vaccine in humans. In this report, a library of 653 partially overlapping 15-mer peptides covering the envelope (Env) and nonstructural (NS) proteins 1 to 5 of the vaccine was utilized to perform a comprehensive analysis of the virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. The T-cell responses were screened ex-vivo by IFN-γ ELISPOT assays using blood samples from 220 YF-17DD vaccinees collected two months to four years after immunization. Each peptide was tested in 75 to 208 separate individuals of the cohort. The screening identified sixteen immunodominant antigens that elicited activation of circulating memory T-cells in 10% to 33% of the individuals. Biochemical in-vitro binding assays and immunogenetic and immunogenicity studies indicated that each of the sixteen immunogenic 15-mer peptides contained two or more partially overlapping epitopes that could bind with high affinity to molecules of different HLAs. The prevalence of the immunogenicity of a peptide in the cohort was correlated with the diversity of HLA-II alleles that they could bind. These findings suggest that overlapping of HLA binding motifs within a peptide enhances its T-cell immunogenicity and the prevalence of the response in the population. In summary, the results suggests that in addition to factors of the innate immunity, “promiscuous” T-cell antigens might contribute to the high efficacy of the yellow fever vaccines.
T-cell responses are considered to be very important; however, the role of T-cell responses in vaccine mediated immunity is still controversial. One reason may be that most studies of human T-cell responses are focused on a few epitopes. We still lack a systematic view of the repertoire of peptides presented by the different HLA class I and II molecules and how the peptides presented by the different HLAs interact within the host to develop T-cell responses. Here we present a study of the T-cell responses against the YF-17DD vaccine in the context of a cohort of 220 volunteers and observed that the most prevalent T-cell responses are targeted at peptides that bind to multiple types of HLA molecules. Based on these results we postulate that promiscuous T-cell epitopes might have a critical role in the development of adaptive immunity. These results may have broader implications for other pathogens, since the yellow fever vaccine is currently being developed as a vaccine vector for other diseases. Therefore, these epitopes might have a functionally cooperative role in boosting specific neutralizing antibody responses. In addition, we propose that promiscuous T-cell antigens may be better immunogens for vaccine development; however more studies are necessary.
The immune system rapidly responds to intracellular infections by detecting MHC class I restricted T-cell epitopes presented on infected cells. It was originally thought that viral peptides are liberated during constitutive protein turnover, but this conflicts with the observation that viral epitopes are detected within minutes of their synthesis even when their source proteins exhibit half-lives of days. The DRiPs hypothesis proposes that epitopes derive from Defective Ribosomal Products (DRiPs), rather than degradation of mature protein products. One potential source of DRiPs is premature translation termination. If this is a major source of DRiPs, this should be reflected in positional bias towards the N-terminus. By contrast, if downstream initiation is a major source of DRiPs, there should be positional bias towards the C-terminus. Here, we systematically assessed positional bias of epitopes in viral antigens, exploiting the large set of data available in the Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource. We show a statistically significant degree of positional skewing among epitopes; epitopes from both ends of antigens tend to be under-represented. Centric-skewing correlates with a bias towards class I binding peptides being over-represented in the middle, in parallel with a higher degree of evolutionary conservation.
To defend the host from an infection, the immune system continuously scans cell surfaces for foreign objects. Specifically, a virus inside a cell exploits the host to make copies of its proteins; viral proteins are broken up into peptide fragments; and the fragments are displayed on the infected cell's surface, thereby allowing detection and cell-killing. How these peptide fragments for cell-surface presentation are generated remains unknown. An understanding of this step will lead to rational design of vaccines and insights into tumor immunosurveillance and autoimmunity. One possible mechanism is that the peptide fragments come from defective proteins missing either the beginning or end regions, which may result in a bias. Here, we analyzed locations of a large set of known viral epitopes, peptide fragments recognized by the immune system, within their proteins. We find that all regions of proteins are represented well by the immune system. However, there is a statistically significant bias in the central regions of proteins, which correlate with a pattern of conservation spanning the length of viral proteins. Our results suggest a combined effect of conservation and enhancement of immune responses through repeated exposures in shaping the distribution of known viral epitopes.
An understanding of the immunological footprint of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) CD4 T cell recognition is still incomplete. Here we report that human Th1 cells specific for MTB are largely contained in a CXCR3+CCR6+ memory subset and highly focused on three broadly immunodominant antigenic islands, all related to bacterial secretion systems. Our results refute the notion that secreted antigens act as a decoy, since both secreted proteins and proteins comprising the secretion system itself are targeted by a fully functional T cell response. In addition, several novel T cell antigens were identified which can be of potential diagnostic use, or as vaccine antigens. These results underline the power of a truly unbiased, genome-wide, analysis of CD4 MTB recognition based on the combined use of epitope predictions, high throughput ELISPOT, and T cell libraries using PBMCs from individuals latently infected with MTB.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the most life-threatening pathogens of all time, having infected one-third of the present human population. There is an urgent need for both novel vaccines and diagnostic strategies. Here, we were able to identify the targets most dominantly recognized by latently infected individual that successfully contain infection. These targets are contained in three broadly genomic antigenic islands, all related to bacterial secretion systems and composed by several distinct ORFs. Thus, our results suggest that vaccination with one or few defined antigens will fail to replicate the response associated with natural immunity. Our analysis also pinpoints that the Th1 cells dominating the response are associated with novel and well-defined phenotypic markers, suggesting that the response is molded by unique MTB associated factors. This study demonstrates further that the approach combining peptide binding predictions with modern high throughput techniques is generally applicable to the study of immunity to other complex pathogens. Together, our data provide a new angle in the worldwide fight against M. tuberculosis and could be used for diagnostic or vaccine developments.
Ability of CD8+ T cells to act as cytolytic effectors and produce IFN-γ was shown to mediate resistance to Toxoplasma gondii in murine models due to recognition of peptides restricted by murine MHC Class I molecules. However, no T. gondii specific HLA-B07 restricted peptides were proven protective against T gondii. Recently, two T gondii-specific HLA-B*0702-restricted T cell epitopes, GRA720–28 (LPQFATAAT) and GRA327–35 (VPFVVFLVA), displayed high-affinity binding to HLA-B*0702, and elicited IFN-γ from PBMCs of seropositive HLA-B*0702 persons. Herein, these peptides were evaluated to determine whether they could elicit IFN-γ in splenocytes of HLA-B*0702 transgenic mice when administered with adjuvants and protect against subsequent challenge. Peptide-specific IFN-γ producing T cells were identified by ELISPOT and proliferation assays utilizing splenic T lymphocytes from HLA transgenic mice. When HLA-B*0702 mice were immunized with one of the epitopes identified, GRA720–28 in conjunction with a universal CD4+ T cell epitope (PADRE) and adjuvants (CD4+ T cell adjuvant, GLA-SE, and TLR2 stimulatory Pam2Cys for CD8+ T cells), this immunization induced CD8+ T cells to produce IFN-γ and protected mice against high parasite burden when challenged with T gondii. This work demonstrates feasibility of bioinformatics followed by an empirical approach based on HLA binding to test this biological activity for identifying protective HLA-B*0702 restricted T gondii peptides and adjuvants that elicit protective immune responses in HLA-B*0702 mice.
Toxoplasma gondii; HLA-B07 epitopes; PADRE; adjuvant; vaccine
Here we analyzed the molecular targets associated with myasthenia gravis (MG) immune responses, enabled by an immune epitope database (IEDB) inventory of approximately 600 MG-related epitopes derived from 175 references. The vast majority of epitopes were derived from the α-subunit of human AChR suggesting that other MG-associated autoantigens should be investigated further. Human α-AChR was mostly characterized in humans, whereas reactivity primarily to T. californica AChR was examined in animal models. While the fine specificity of T-cell response was similar in the two systems, substantial antibody reactivity to the C-terminus was detected in the nonhuman system, but not in humans. Further analysis showed that the reactivity of nonhuman hosts to the C-terminus was eliminated when data were restricted to hosts tested in the context of autoimmune disease (spontaneous or induced), demonstrating that the epitopes recognized in humans and animals were shared when disease was present. Finally, we provided data subsets relevant to particular applications, including those associated with HLA typing or restriction, sets of epitopes recognized by monoclonal antibodies, and epitopes associated with modulation of immunity or disease. In conclusion, this analysis highlights gaps, differences, and similarities in the epitope repertoires of humans and animal models.
The Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource (IEDB, http://www.iedb.org) hosts a continuously growing set of immune epitope data curated from the literature, as well as data submitted directly by experimental scientists. In addition, the IEDB hosts a collection of prediction tools for both MHC class I and II restricted T-cell epitopes that are regularly updated. In this review, we provide an overview of T-cell epitope data and prediction tools provided by the IEDB. We then illustrate effective use of these resources to support experimental studies. We focus on two applications, namely identification of conserved epitopes in novel strains of a previously studied pathogen, and prediction of novel T-cell epitopes to facilitate vaccine design. We address common questions and concerns faced by users, and identify patterns of usage that have proven successful.
epitope conservation; epitope predictions; vaccine design; Major Histocompatibility Complex
The frequency of dengue virus (DENV) infection has increased dramatically in the last few decades, and the lack of a vaccine has led to significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. To date, a convenient murine system to study human T cell responses to DENV has not been available. Mice transgenic for human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are widely used to model human immune responses and it has been shown that mouse-passaged DENV is able to replicate to significant levels in IFN-α/βR−/− mice. To cover a wide range of HLA phenotypes, we backcrossed IFN-α/βR−/− mice with HLA A*0201, A*0101, A*1101, B*0702 and DRB1*0101 transgenic mice. A DENV proteome-wide screen identified a total of 42 epitopes across all HLA-transgenic IFN-α/βR−/− strains tested. In contrast only 8 of these elicited responses in the corresponding IFN-α/βR+/+ mice. We were able to identify T cell epitopes from 9 out of the 10 DENV proteins. However, the majority of responses were derived from the highly conserved nonstructural proteins NS3 and NS5. The relevance of this model is further demonstrated by the fact that most of the epitopes identified in our murine system are also recognized by PBMC from DENV exposed human donors, and a dominance of HLA B*0702 restricted responses has been detected in both systems. Our results provide new insights into HLA-restricted T cell responses against DENV, and we herein describe a novel murine model, which allows the investigation of T cell-mediated immune mechanisms relevant to vaccine design.
HLA-B27 is associated with spontaneous viral clearance in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Viral escape within the immunodominant HLA-B27 restricted HCV-specific CD8+ T cell epitope NS5B2841-2849 (ARMILMTHF) has been shown to be limited by viral fitness costs as well as broad T cell cross-recognition, suggesting a potential mechanism of protection by HLA-B27. Here, we studied the subdominant HLA-B27 restricted epitope NS5B2936-2944 (GRAAICGKY) in order to further define the mechanisms of protection by HLA-B27. We identified a unique pattern of escape mutations within this epitope in a large cohort of HCV genotype 1a infected patients. The predominant escape mutations represented conservative substitutions at the main HLA-B27 anchor residue or a T cell receptor contact site, neither of which impaired viral replication capacity as assessed in a subgenomic HCV replicon system. In contrast, however, in a subset of HLA-B27+ subjects rare escape mutations arose at the HLA-B27 anchor residue R2937, which nearly abolished viral replication. Notably, these rare mutations only occurred in conjunction with the selection of two equally rare, and structurally proximal, upstream mutations. Co-expression of these upstream mutations with the rare escape mutations dramatically restored viral replication capacity from <5% to ≥70% of wild-type levels.
The selection of rare CTL escape mutations in this HLA-B27 restricted epitope dramatically impairs viral replicative fitness unless properly compensated. These data support a role for the targeting of highly-constrained regions by HLA-B27 in its ability to assert immune control of HCV and other highly variable pathogens.
Hepatitis C virus; T cell response; viral escape; HLA-B27; viral fitness
T-cell based vaccine approaches have emerged to counteract HIV-1/AIDS. Broad, polyfunctional and cytotoxic CD4+ T-cell responses have been associated with control of HIV-1 replication, which supports the inclusion of CD4+ T-cell epitopes in vaccines. A successful HIV-1 vaccine should also be designed to overcome viral genetic diversity and be able to confer immunity in a high proportion of immunized individuals from a diverse HLA-bearing population. In this study, we rationally designed a multiepitopic DNA vaccine in order to elicit broad and cross-clade CD4+ T-cell responses against highly conserved and promiscuous peptides from the HIV-1 M-group consensus sequence. We identified 27 conserved, multiple HLA-DR-binding peptides in the HIV-1 M-group consensus sequences of Gag, Pol, Nef, Vif, Vpr, Rev and Vpu using the TEPITOPE algorithm. The peptides bound in vitro to an average of 12 out of the 17 tested HLA-DR molecules and also to several molecules such as HLA-DP, -DQ and murine IAb and IAd. Sixteen out of the 27 peptides were recognized by PBMC from patients infected with different HIV-1 variants and 72% of such patients recognized at least 1 peptide. Immunization with a DNA vaccine (HIVBr27) encoding the identified peptides elicited IFN-γ secretion against 11 out of the 27 peptides in BALB/c mice; CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell proliferation was observed against 8 and 6 peptides, respectively. HIVBr27 immunization elicited cross-clade T-cell responses against several HIV-1 peptide variants. Polyfunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, able to simultaneously proliferate and produce IFN-γ and TNF-α, were also observed. This vaccine concept may cope with HIV-1 genetic diversity as well as provide increased population coverage, which are desirable features for an efficacious strategy against HIV-1/AIDS.
Salmonella enterica serovars are intracellular bacteria capable of causing typhoid fever and gastroenteritis of significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Current prophylactic and therapeutic treatment is hampered by the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of Salmonella, and vaccines provide only temporal and partial protection in vaccinees. To develop more effective Salmonella vaccines, it is important to understand the development of protective adaptive immunity to virulent Salmonella. Here we report the identification of novel CD4+ T cell peptide epitopes, which are conserved among Salmonella serovars. Immunization of Salmonella-infected mice with these peptide epitopes reduces the burden of Salmonella disease. Furthermore, we show that distinct polyfunctional (interferon-γ+, tumor necrosis factor+, and interleukin-2+) Salmonella-specific CD4+ T cell responses develop with respect to magnitude and kinetics. Moreover, we found that CD4+ T cell responses against immunodominant epitopes are predictive for active Salmonella disease. Collectively, these data could contribute to improved diagnosis of Salmonella-related diseases and rational design of Salmonella vaccines.
We characterized twelve SIV-infected Chinese-origin rhesus macaques for their entire MHC class I allele composition. Several MHC class I alleles were present in animals with varying outcomes of infections, either elite control or normal progression to AIDS disease. These MHC class I alleles may prove interesting targets for additional characterization.
Caspase-dependent cleavage of antigens associated with apoptotic cells plays a prominent role in the generation of CD8+ T cell responses in various infectious diseases. We found that the emergence of a large population of autoreactive CD8+ T effector cells specific for apoptotic T cell-associated self-epitopes exceeds the antiviral responses in patients with acute hepatitis C virus infection. Importantly, they endow mixed polyfunctional type-1, type-2 and type-17 responses and correlate with the chronic progression of infection. This evolution is related to the selection of autoreactive CD8+ T cells with higher T cell receptor avidity, whereas those with lower avidity undergo prompt contraction in patients who clear infection. These findings demonstrate a previously undescribed strict link between the emergence of high frequencies of mixed autoreactive CD8+ T cells producing a broad array of cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-17, IL-4, IL-2…) and the progression toward chronic disease in a human model of acute infection.
The emergence of a large population of mixed polyfunctional (type-1, -2, -17) CD8+ T cell effector responses specific for apoptotic T cell-associated self-epitopes rather than the dysfunction or altered quality of virus-specific CD8+ T cells is associated with the progression toward chronic disease in the human model of acute HCV infection. The chronic evolution is associated with the selection of autoreactive CD8+ T cells with higher T cell receptor avidity, whereas those with lower avidity undergo prompt contraction, as seen in patients undergoing infection resolution. We suggest that these autoreactive responses are secondary to the viral persistence and can participate to the HCV-related immunopathology. This data has implications for the prognosis and therapy of infections undergoing chronic evolution.
Approximately 3% of the world population is infected by HCV, which represents a major global health challenge. Almost 400 different scientific reports present immunological data related to T cell and antibody epitopes derived from HCV literature. Analysis of all HCV-related epitope hosted in the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB), a repository of freely accessible immune epitope data, revealed more than 1500 and 1900 distinct T cell and antibody epitopes, respectively. The inventory of all data revealed specific trends in terms of the host and the HCV genotypes from which sequences were derived. Upon further analysis we found that this large number of epitopes reflects overlapping structures, and homologous sequences derived from different HCV isolates. To access and visualize this information we developed a novel strategy that assembles large sets of epitope data, maps them onto reference genomes and displays the frequency of positive responses. Compilation of the HCV immune reactivity from hundreds of different studies, revealed a complex and thorough picture of HCV immune epitope data to date. The results pinpoint areas of more intense reactivity or research activities at the level of antibody, CD4 and CD8 responses for each of the individual HCV proteins. In general, the areas targeted by the different effector immune functions were distinct and antibody reactivity was positively correlated with hydrophilicity, while T cell reactivity correlated with hydrophobicity. At the sequence level, epitopes frequently recognized by both T cell and B cell correlated with low variability, and our analysis thus highlighted areas of potential interest for practical applications. The human reactivity was further analyzed to pinpoint differential patterns of reactivity associated with acute versus chronic infection, to reveal the apparent impact of glycosylation on T cell, but not antibody responses, and to highlight a paucity of studies involved antibody epitopes associated with virus neutralization.
The goal of the present study was to design a vaccine that would provide universal protection against infection of humans with diverse influenza A viruses. Accordingly, protein sequences from influenza A virus strains currently in circulation (H1N1, H3N2), agents of past pandemics (H1N1, H2N2, H3N2) and zoonotic infections of man (H1N1, H5N1, H7N2, H7N3, H7N7, H9N2) were evaluated for the presence of amino acid sequences, motifs, that are predicted to mediate peptide epitope binding with high affinity to the most frequent HLA-DR allelic products. Peptides conserved among diverse influenza strains were then synthesized, evaluated for binding to purified HLA-DR molecules and for their capacity to induce influenza-specific immune recall responses using human donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Accordingly, 20 epitopes were selected for further investigation based on their conservancy among diverse influenza strains, predicted population coverage in diverse ethnic groups and capacity to recall influenza-specific responses. A DNA plasmid encoding the epitopes was constructed using amino acid spacers between epitopes to promote optimum processing and presentation. Immunogenicity of the DNA vaccine was measured using HLA-DR4 transgenic mice and the TriGrid™ in vivo electroporation device. Vaccination resulted in peptide-specific immune responses, augmented HA-specific antibody responses and protection of HLA-DR4 transgenic mice from lethal PR8 influenza virus challenge. These studies demonstrate the utility of this vaccine format and the contribution of CD4+ T cell responses to protection against influenza infection.
Influenza; CD4+ T cell epitopes; HA-specific antibodies
The immune epitope database analysis resource (IEDB-AR: http://tools.iedb.org) is a collection of tools for prediction and analysis of molecular targets of T- and B-cell immune responses (i.e. epitopes). Since its last publication in the NAR webserver issue in 2008, a new generation of peptide:MHC binding and T-cell epitope predictive tools have been added. As validated by different labs and in the first international competition for predicting peptide:MHC-I binding, their predictive performances have improved considerably. In addition, a new B-cell epitope prediction tool was added, and the homology mapping tool was updated to enable mapping of discontinuous epitopes onto 3D structures. Furthermore, to serve a wider range of users, the number of ways in which IEDB-AR can be accessed has been expanded. Specifically, the predictive tools can be programmatically accessed using a web interface and can also be downloaded as software packages.
Although cellular immunity to acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection has been well characterized in experimental studies in mice, the T cell response to this virus in humans is incompletely understood. Thus, we analyzed the breadths, magnitudes, and differentiation phenotypes of memory LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in three human donors displaying a variety of disease outcomes after accidental needle stick injury or exposure to LCMV. Although only a small cohort of donors was analyzed at a single time point postinfection, several interesting observations were made. First, we were able to detect LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses directly ex vivo at 4 to 8 years after exposure, demonstrating the longevity of T cell memory in humans. Second, unlike in murine models of LCMV infection, we found that the breadths of memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses were not significantly different from one another. Third, it seemed that the overall CD8+ T cell response was augmented with increasing severity of disease, while the LCMV-specific CD4+ T cell response magnitude was highly variable between the three different donors. Next, we found that LCMV-specific CD8+ T cells in the three donors analyzed seemed to undergo an effector memory differentiation program distinct from that of CD4+ T cells. Finally, the levels of expression of memory, costimulatory, and inhibitory receptors on CD8+ and CD4+ T cell subsets, in some instances, correlated with disease outcome. These data demonstrate for the first time LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in infected humans and begin to provide new insights into memory T cell responses following an acute virus infection.
The sequence of microbial genomes made all potential antigens of each pathogen available for vaccine development. This increased by orders of magnitude potential vaccine targets in bacteria, parasites, and large viruses and revealed virtually all their CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes. The genomic information was first used for the development of a vaccine against serogroup B meningococcus, and it is now being used for several other bacterial vaccines. In this review, we will first summarize the impact that genome sequencing has had on vaccine development, and then we will analyze how the genomic information can help further our understanding of immunity to infection or vaccination and lead to the design of better vaccines by diving into the world of T cell immunity.
Background & Aims
The extensive infiltration of CD8+ T cells in the intestinal mucosa of celiac disease (CD) patients is a hallmark of the disease. We identified a gliadin peptide (pA2) that is selectively recognized by CD8+ T cells infiltrating intestinal mucosa of HLA-A2+ CD patients. Herein, we investigated the phenotype, the tissue localization, and the effector mechanism of cells responsive to pA2 by using the organ culture of CD intestinal mucosa. The target of pA2-mediated cytotoxicity was also investigated by using the intestinal epithelial cell lines Caco2 and HT29, A2+ and A2-, respectively, as target cells.
Jejunal biopsy specimens from CD patients were cultured in vitro with pA2, and cellular activation was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and cytofluorimetric analysis. Cytotoxicity of pA2-specific, intestinal CD8+ T cells was assayed by granzyme-B and interferon-γ release and by apoptosis of target cells.
pA2 challenge of A2+ CD mucosa increased the percentage of CD8+CD25+ and of CD80+ cells in the lamina propria, the former mainly localized beneath the epithelium, as well as the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling-positive cells (TUNEL+) in the epithelium. Intraepithelial CD3+ cells and enterocyte expression of Fas were also increased. CD8+ CD25+ and CD8+ FASL+ T cells were significantly increased in cell preparations from biopsy specimens cultured with pA2. CD8+ T-cell lines released both granzyme-B and interferon-γ following recognition of pA2 when presented by Caco2 and not by HT29.
These data indicate that gliadins contain peptides able to activate, through a TCR/HLA class I interaction, CD8-mediated response in intestinal CD mucosa and to induce the enterocyte apoptosis.
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
We have reviewed the information about epitopes of immunological interest from Clostridium botulinum and Bacillus anthracis, by mining the Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource. For both pathogens, the vast majority of epitopes reported to date are derived from a single protein: the protective antigen of B. anthracis and the neurotoxin type A of C. botulinum. A detailed analysis of the data was performed to characterize the function, localization and conservancy of epitopes identified as neutralizing and/or protective. In order to broaden the scope of this analysis, we have also included data describing immune responses against defined fragments (over 50 amino acids long) of the relevant antigens. The scarce information on T-cell determinants and on epitopes from other antigens besides the toxins, highlights a gap in our knowledge and identifies areas for future research. Despite this, several distinct structures at the epitope and fragment level are described herein, which could be potential additions to future vaccines or targets of novel immunotherapeutics and diagnostic reagents.
anthrax toxin; Bacillus anthracis; botulinum toxin; Clostridium botulinum; epitope; therapeutic antibodies; vaccine
The primary CD8+ T cell response of C57BL/6J mice against the 28 known epitopes of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is associated with a clear immunodominance hierarchy whose mechanism has yet to be defined. To evaluate the role of epitope competition in immunodominance, we manipulated the number of CD8+ T cell epitopes that could be recognized during LCMV infection. Decreasing epitope numbers, using a viral variant lacking dominant epitopes or C57BL/6J mice lacking H-2Kb, resulted in minor response increases for the remaining epitopes and no new epitopes being recognized. Increasing epitope numbers by using F1 hybrid mice, delivery by recombinant vaccinia virus, or epitope delivery as a pool in IFA maintained the overall response pattern; however, changes in the hierarchy did become apparent. MHC binding affinity of these epitopes was measured and was found to not strictly predict the hierarchy since in several cases similarly high binding affinities were associated with differences in immunodominance. In these instances the naive CD8+ T cell precursor frequency, directly measured by tetramer staining, correlated with the response hierarchy seen after LCMV infection. Finally, we investigated an escape mutant of the dominant GP33-41 epitope that elicited a weak response following LCMV variant virus infection. Strikingly, dominance loss likely reflects a substantial reduction in frequencies of naive precursors specific for this epitope. Thus, our results indicate that an intrinsic property of the epitope (MHC binding affinity) and an intrinsic property of the host (naive precursor frequency) jointly dictate the immunodominance hierarchy of CD8+ T cell responses.
In human recurrent cutaneous herpes simplex, there is a sequential infiltrate of CD4 and then CD8 lymphocytes into lesions. CD4 lymphocytes are the major producers of the key cytokine IFN-γ in lesions. They recognize mainly structural proteins and especially glycoproteins D and B (gD and gB) when restimulated in vitro. Recent human vaccine trials using recombinant gD showed partial protection of HSV seronegative women against genital herpes disease and also, in placebo recipients, showed protection by prior HSV1 infection. In this study, we have defined immunodominant peptide epitopes recognized by 8 HSV1+ and/or 16 HSV2+ patients using 51Cr-release cytotoxicity and IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. Using a set of 39 overlapping 20-mer peptides, more than six immunodominant epitopes were defined in gD2 (two to six peptide epitopes were recognized for each subject). Further fine mapping of these responses for 4 of the 20-mers, using a panel of 9 internal 12-mers for each 20-mers, combined with MHC II typing and also direct in vitro binding assay of these peptides to individual DR molecules, showed more than one epitope per 20-mers and promiscuous binding of individual 20-mers and 12-mers to multiple DR types. All four 20-mer peptides were cross-recognized by both HSV1+/HSV2− and HSV1−/HSV2+ subjects, but the sites of recognition differed within the 20-mers where their sequences were divergent. This work provides a basis for CD4 lymphocyte cross-recognition of gD2 and possibly cross-protection observed in previous clinical studies and in vaccine trials.
We investigated the molecular determinants of allergen-derived T cell epitopes in humans utilizing the Phleum pratense (Timothy grass) allergens (Phl p). PBMCs from allergic individuals were tested in ELISPOT assays with overlapping peptides spanning known Phl p allergens. A total of 43 distinct antigenic regions were recognized, illustrating the large breadth of grass-specific T cell epitopes. Th2 cytokines (as represented by IL-5) were predominant, whereas IFN-γ, IL-10, and IL-17 were detected less frequently. Responses from specific immunotherapy treatment individuals were weaker and less consistent, yet similar in epitope specificity and cytokine pattern to allergic donors, whereas nonallergic individuals were essentially nonreactive. Despite the large breadth of recognition, nine dominant antigenic regions were defined, each recognized by multiple donors, accounting for 51% of the total response. Multiple HLA molecules and loci restricted the dominant regions, and the immunodominant epitopes could be predicted using bioinformatic algorithms specific for 23 common HLA-DR, DP, and DQ molecules. Immunodominance was also apparent at the Phl p Ag level. It was found that 52, 19, and 14% of the total response was directed to Phl p 5, 1, and 3, respectively. Interestingly, little or no correlation between Phl p-specific IgE levels and T cell responses was found. Thus, certain intrinsic features of the allergen protein might influence immunogenicity at the level of T cell reactivity. Consistent with this notion, different Phl p Ags were associated with distinct patterns of IL-5, IFN-γ, IL-10, and IL-17 production.
HSV type 1 (HSV-1) expresses its genes sequentially as immediate early (α), early (β), leaky late (γ1), and true late (γ2), where viral DNA synthesis is an absolute prerequisite only for γ2 gene expression. The γ1 protein glycoprotein B (gB) contains a strongly immunodominant CD8+ T cell epitope (gB498–505) that is recognized by 50% of both the CD8+ effector T cells in acutely infected trigeminal ganglia (TG) and the CD8+ memory T cells in latently infected TG. Of 376 predicted HSV-1 CD8+ T cell epitopes in C57BL/6 mice, 19 (gB498–505 and 18 subdominant epitopes) stimulated CD8+ T cells in the spleens and TG of HSV-1 acutely infected mice. These 19 epitopes identified virtually all CD8+ T cells in the infected TG that represent all or the vast majority of the HSV-specific CD8+ TCR repertoire. Only 11 of ∼84 HSV-1 proteins are recognized by CD8+ T cells, and most (∼80%) are expressed before viral DNA synthesis. Neither the immunodominance of gB498–505 nor the dominance hierarchy of the subdominant epitopes is due solely to MHC or TCR affinity. We conclude that the vast majority of CD8+ T cells in HSV-1 acutely infected TG are HSV specific, that HSV-1 β and γ1 proteins that are expressed before viral DNA synthesis are favored targets of CD8+ T cells, and that dominance within the TCR repertoire is likely due to the frequency or expansion and survival characteristics of CD8+ T cell precursors.