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1.  The serodominant secreted effector protein of Salmonella, SseB, is a strong CD4 antigen containing an immunodominant epitope presented by diverse HLA class II alleles 
Immunology  2014;143(3):438-446.
Detailed characterization of the protective T-cell response in salmonellosis is a pressing unmet need in light of the global burden of human Salmonella infections and the likely contribution of CD4 T cells to immunity against this intracellular infection. In previous studies screening patient sera against antigen arrays, SseB was noteworthy as a serodominant target of adaptive immunity, inducing significantly raised antibody responses in HIV-seronegative compared with seropositive patients. SseB is a secreted protein, part of the Espa superfamily, localized to the bacterial surface and forming part of the translocon of the type III secretion system (T3SS) encoded by Salmonella pathogenicity island 2. We demonstrate here that SseB is also a target of CD4 T-cell immunity, generating a substantial response after experimental infection in human volunteers, with around 0·1% of the peripheral repertoire responding to it. HLA-DR/peptide binding studies indicate that this protein encompasses a number of peptides with ability to bind to several different HLA-DR alleles. Of these, peptide 11 (p11) was shown in priming of both HLA-DR1 and HLA-DR4 transgenic mice to contain an immunodominant CD4 epitope. Analysis of responses in human donors showed immunity focused on p11 and another epitope in peptide 2. The high frequency of SseB-reactive CD4 T cells and the broad applicability to diverse HLA genotypes coupled with previous observations of serodominance and protective vaccination in mouse challenge experiments, make SseB a plausible candidate for next-generation Salmonella vaccines.
doi:10.1111/imm.12327
PMCID: PMC4212957  PMID: 24891088
CD4 epitope; HLA-DR transgenic; Salmonella; SseB; type 3 secretion system
2.  Anthrax Lethal Factor as an Immune Target in Humans and Transgenic Mice and the Impact of HLA Polymorphism on CD4+ T Cell Immunity 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(5):e1004085.
Bacillus anthracis produces a binary toxin composed of protective antigen (PA) and one of two subunits, lethal factor (LF) or edema factor (EF). Most studies have concentrated on induction of toxin-specific antibodies as the correlate of protective immunity, in contrast to which understanding of cellular immunity to these toxins and its impact on infection is limited. We characterized CD4+ T cell immunity to LF in a panel of humanized HLA-DR and DQ transgenic mice and in naturally exposed patients. As the variation in antigen presentation governed by HLA polymorphism has a major impact on protective immunity to specific epitopes, we examined relative binding affinities of LF peptides to purified HLA class II molecules, identifying those regions likely to be of broad applicability to human immune studies through their ability to bind multiple alleles. Transgenics differing only in their expression of human HLA class II alleles showed a marked hierarchy of immunity to LF. Immunogenicity in HLA transgenics was primarily restricted to epitopes from domains II and IV of LF and promiscuous, dominant epitopes, common to all HLA types, were identified in domain II. The relevance of this model was further demonstrated by the fact that a number of the immunodominant epitopes identified in mice were recognized by T cells from humans previously infected with cutaneous anthrax and from vaccinated individuals. The ability of the identified epitopes to confer protective immunity was demonstrated by lethal anthrax challenge of HLA transgenic mice immunized with a peptide subunit vaccine comprising the immunodominant epitopes that we identified.
Author Summary
Anthrax is of concern with respect to human exposure in endemic regions, concerns about bioterrorism and the considerable global burden of livestock infections. The immunology of this disease remains poorly understood. Vaccination has been based on B. anthracis filtrates or attenuated spore-based vaccines, with more recent trials of next-generation recombinant vaccines. Approaches generally require extensive vaccination regimens and there have been concerns about immunogenicity and adverse reactions. An ongoing need remains for rationally designed, effective and safe anthrax vaccines. The importance of T cell stimulating vaccines is inceasingly recognized. An essential step is an understanding of immunodominant epitopes and their relevance across the diverse HLA immune response genes of human populations. We characterized CD4 T cell immunity to anthrax Lethal Factor (LF), using HLA transgenic mice, as well as testing candidate peptide epitopes for binding to a wide range of HLA alleles. We identified anthrax epitopes, noteworthy in that they elicit exceptionally strong immunity with promiscuous binding across multiple HLA alleles and isotypes. T cell responses in humans exposed to LF through either natural anthrax infection or vaccination were also examined. Epitopes identified as candidates were used to protect HLA transgenic mice from anthrax challenge.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004085
PMCID: PMC4006929  PMID: 24788397
3.  Peptide immunotherapy in allergic asthma generates IL-10–dependent immunological tolerance associated with linked epitope suppression 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2009;206(7):1535-1547.
Treatment of patients with allergic asthma using low doses of peptides containing T cell epitopes from Fel d 1, the major cat allergen, reduces allergic sensitization and improves surrogate markers of disease. Here, we demonstrate a key immunological mechanism, linked epitope suppression, associated with this therapeutic effect. Treatment with selected epitopes from a single allergen resulted in suppression of responses to other (“linked”) epitopes within the same molecule. This phenomenon was induced after peptide immunotherapy in human asthmatic subjects and in a novel HLA-DR1 transgenic mouse model of asthma. Tracking of allergen-specific T cells using DR1 tetramers determined that suppression was associated with the induction of interleukin (IL)-10+ T cells that were more abundant than T cells specific for the single-treatment peptide and was reversed by anti–IL-10 receptor administration. Resolution of airway pathophysiology in this model was associated with reduced recruitment, proliferation, and effector function of allergen-specific Th2 cells. Our results provide, for the first time, in vivo evidence of linked epitope suppression and IL-10 induction in both human allergic disease and a mouse model designed to closely mimic peptide therapy in humans.
doi:10.1084/jem.20082901
PMCID: PMC2715096  PMID: 19528258
4.  The serodominant secreted effector protein of Salmonella, SseB, is a strong CD4 antigen containing an immunodominant epitope presented by diverse HLA class II alleles 
Immunology  2014;143(3):438-446.
Detailed characterization of the protective T-cell response in salmonellosis is a pressing unmet need in light of the global burden of human Salmonella infections and the likely contribution of CD4 T cells to immunity against this intracellular infection. In previous studies screening patient sera against antigen arrays, SseB was noteworthy as a serodominant target of adaptive immunity, inducing significantly raised antibody responses in HIV-seronegative compared with seropositive patients. SseB is a secreted protein, part of the Espa superfamily, localized to the bacterial surface and forming part of the translocon of the type III secretion system (T3SS) encoded by Salmonella pathogenicity island 2. We demonstrate here that SseB is also a target of CD4 T-cell immunity, generating a substantial response after experimental infection in human volunteers, with around 0·1% of the peripheral repertoire responding to it. HLA-DR/peptide binding studies indicate that this protein encompasses a number of peptides with ability to bind to several different HLA-DR alleles. Of these, peptide 11 (p11) was shown in priming of both HLA-DR1 and HLA-DR4 transgenic mice to contain an immunodominant CD4 epitope. Analysis of responses in human donors showed immunity focused on p11 and another epitope in peptide 2. The high frequency of SseB-reactive CD4 T cells and the broad applicability to diverse HLA genotypes coupled with previous observations of serodominance and protective vaccination in mouse challenge experiments, make SseB a plausible candidate for next-generation Salmonella vaccines.
doi:10.1111/imm.12327
PMCID: PMC4212957  PMID: 24891088
CD4 epitope; HLA-DR transgenic; Salmonella; SseB; type 3 secretion system

Results 1-4 (4)