MHC class I molecules bind intracellular oligopeptides and present them on the cell surface for CD8+ T-cell activation and recognition. Strong peptide/MHC class I (pMHC) interactions typically induce the best CD8+ T-cell responses; however, many immunotherapeutic tumor-specific peptides bind MHC with low affinity. To overcome this, immunologists can carefully alter peptides for enhanced MHC affinity but often at the cost of decreased T-cell recognition. A new report published in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology [Eur. J. Immunol. 2013. 43: XXXX-XXXX] shows that the substitution of proline (Pro) at the third residue (p3P) of a common tumor peptide increases pMHC affinity and complex stability while enhancing T-cell receptor recognition. X-ray crystallography indicates that stability is generated through newly introduced CH-π bonding between p3P and a conserved residue (Y159) in the MHC heavy chain. This finding highlights a previously unappreciated role for CH-π bonding in MHC peptide binding, and importantly, arms immunologists with a novel and possibly general approach for increasing pMHC stability without compromising T-cell recognition.
altered peptide ligand; MHC class I; peptide; tumor-associated antigen
Influenza A virus (IAV) remains an important human pathogen largely because of antigenic drift, the rapid emergence of antibody escape mutants that precludes durable vaccination. The most potent neutralizing antibodies interact with cognate epitopes in the globular “head” domain of hemagglutinin (HA), a homotrimeric glycoprotein. The H1 HA possesses five distinct regions defined by a large number of mouse monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), i.e., Ca1, Ca2, Cb, Sa, and Sb. Ca1-Ca2 sites require HA trimerization to attain full antigenicity, consistent with their locations on opposite sides of the trimer interface. Here, we show that full antigenicity of Cb and Sa sites also requires HA trimerization, as revealed by immunofluorescence microscopy of IAV-infected cells and biochemically by pulse-chase radiolabeling experiments. Surprisingly, epitope antigenicity acquired by HA trimerization persists following acid triggering of the globular domains dissociation and even after proteolytic release of monomeric heads from acid-treated HA. Thus, the requirement for HA trimerization by trimer-specific MAbs mapping to the Ca, Cb, and Sa sites is not dependent upon the bridging of adjacent monomers in the native HA trimer. Rather, complete antigenicity of HA (and, by inference, immunogenicity) requires a final folding step that accompanies its trimerization. Once this conformational change occurs, HA trimers themselves would not necessarily be required to induce a highly diverse neutralizing response to epitopes in the globular domain.
Despite extensive ex vivo investigation, the spatiotemporal organization of immune cells interacting with virus-infected cells in tissues remains uncertain. To address this, we used intravital multiphoton microscopy to visualize immune cell interactions with virus-infected cells following epicutaneous vaccinia virus (VV) infection of mice. VV infects keratinocytes in epidermal foci, and numerous migratory dermal inflammatory monocytes outlying the foci. We observed Ly6G+ innate immune cells infiltrating and controlling foci, while CD8+ T cells remained on the periphery killing infected monocytes. Most antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in the skin did not interact with virus-infected cells. Blocking the generation of reactive nitrogen species relocated CD8+ T cells into foci, modestly reducing viral titers. Depletion of Ly6G+ and CD8+ cells dramatically increased viral titers, consistent with their synergistic but spatially segregated viral clearance activities. These findings highlight previously unappreciated differences in the anatomic specialization of antiviral immune cell subsets.
Influenza A virus (IAV) infects a remarkably wide variety of avian and mammalian hosts. Evolution finely hones IAV genes to optimally infect and be transmitted in a particular host species. Sporadically, IAV manages to jump between species, introducing novel antigenic strains into the new host population that wreak havoc until herd immunity develops. IAV adaptation to new hosts typically involves reassortment of IAV gene segments from coinfecting virus strains adapted to different hosts in conjunction with multiple adaptive mutations in the various IAV genes. To better understand host adaptation between mammalian species in real time, we passaged mouse-adapted A/PR8/34 (PR8) in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs, unlike mice, support spontaneous and robust IAV transmission. For some IAV strains, including PR8, adaptation is required for a virus to attain transmissibility, providing an opportunity to understand the evolution of transmissibility in guinea pigs. Multiple guinea pig-adapted PR8 mutants generated by serial nasal wash passaging in independent lines replicated more efficiently and were transmitted by cocaging. All transmissible variants possessed one of two nonsynonymous mutations in M1, either alone or in combination with mutations in PB2, HA, NP, or NA. Rapid reassortment between independently selected variants combined beneficial mutations in NP and M1 to form the fittest virus capable of being transmitted. These findings provide further insight into genetic determinants in NP and M1 involved in PR8 IAV adaptation to be transmitted in a new host and clearly show the benefit of a segmented genome in rapidly generating optimal combinations of mutations in IAV evolution.
Segmentation of the influenza A virus (IAV) genome enables rapid gene reassortment at the cost of complicating the task of assembling the full viral genome. By simultaneously probing for the expression of multiple viral proteins in MDCK cells infected at a low multiplicity with IAV, we observe that the majority of infected cells lack detectable expression of one or more essential viral proteins. Consistent with this observation, up to 90% of IAV-infected cells fail to release infectious progeny, indicating that many IAV virions scored as noninfectious by traditional infectivity assays are capable of single-round infection. This fraction was not significantly affected by target or producer cell type but varied widely between different IAV strains. These data indicate that IAV exists primarily as a swarm of complementation-dependent semi-infectious virions, and thus traditional, propagation-dependent assays of infectivity may drastically misrepresent the true infectious potential of a virus population.
dendritic cell; macrophage; monocyte; T cell; virus
A new method for visualizing translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy provides evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus.
Whether protein translation occurs in the nucleus is contentious. To address this question, we developed the ribopuromycylation method (RPM), which visualizes translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy. The RPM is based on ribosome-catalyzed puromycylation of nascent chains immobilized on ribosomes by antibiotic chain elongation inhibitors followed by detection of puromycylated ribosome-bound nascent chains with a puromycin (PMY)-specific monoclonal antibody in fixed and permeabilized cells. The RPM correlates localized translation with myriad processes in cells and can be applied to any cell whose translation is sensitive to PMY. In this paper, we use the RPM to provide evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus, which is regulated by infectious and chemical stress.
An understanding of the antigen-specific B-cell response to the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) is critical to the development of universal influenza vaccines, but it has not been possible to examine these cells directly because HA binds to sialic acid (SA) on most cell types. Here, we use structure-based modification of HA to isolate HA-specific B cells by flow cytometry and characterize the features of HA stem antibodies (Abs) required for their development. Incorporation of a previously described mutation (Y98F) to the receptor binding site (RBS) causes HA to bind only those B cells that express HA-specific Abs, but it does not bind nonspecifically to B cells, and this mutation has no effect on the binding of broadly neutralizing Abs to the RBS. To test the specificity of the Y98F mutation, we first demonstrated that previously described HA nanoparticles mediate hemagglutination and then determined that the Y98F mutation eliminates this activity. Cloning of immunoglobulin genes from HA-specific B cells isolated from a single human subject demonstrates that vaccination with H5N1 influenza virus can elicit B cells expressing stem monoclonal Abs (MAbs). Although these MAbs originated mostly from the IGHV1-69 germ line, a reasonable proportion derived from other genes. Analysis of stem Abs provides insight into the maturation pathways of IGVH1-69-derived stem Abs. Furthermore, this analysis shows that multiple non-IGHV1-69 stem Abs with a similar neutralizing breadth develop after vaccination in humans, suggesting that the HA stem response can be elicited in individuals with non-stem-reactive IGHV1-69 alleles.
IMPORTANCE Universal influenza vaccines would improve immune protection against infection and facilitate vaccine manufacturing and distribution. Flu vaccines stimulate B cells in the blood to produce antibodies that neutralize the virus. These antibodies target a protein on the surface of the virus called HA. Flu vaccines must be reformulated annually, because these antibodies are mostly specific to the viral strains used in the vaccine. But humans can produce broadly neutralizing antibodies. We sought to isolate B cells whose genes encode influenza virus antibodies from a patient vaccinated for avian influenza. To do so, we modified HA so it would bind only the desired cells. Sequencing the antibody genes of cells marked by this probe proved that the patient produced broadly neutralizing antibodies in response to the vaccine. Many sequences obtained had not been observed before. There are more ways to generate broadly neutralizing antibodies for influenza virus than previously thought.
To understand better the endogenous sources of MHC class I peptide ligands, we generated an antigenic reporter protein whose degradation is rapidly and reversibly controlled with Shield-1, a cell-permeant drug. Using this system, we demonstrate that defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) represent a major and highly efficient source of peptides and are completely resistant to our attempts to stabilize the protein. Although peptides also derive from nascent Shield-1–sensitive proteins and “retirees” created by Shield-1 withdrawal, these are much less efficient sources on a molar basis. We use this system to identify two drugs—each known to inhibit polyubiquitin chain disassembly—that selectively inhibit presentation of Shield-1–resistant DRiPs. These findings provide the initial evidence for distinct biochemical pathways for presentation of DRiPs versus retirees and implicate polyubiquitin chain disassembly or the actions of deubiquitylating enzymes as playing an important role in DRiP presentation.
No anti-viral vaccine is perfect. For some important pathogens, there are no effective vaccines. Many current vaccines are based on the working principles of Jenner and Pasteur, i.e. empiric administration of attenuated or inactivated forms of the pathogen. Tapping the full potential of vaccination requires a thorough understanding of the mechanism of immune activation by pathogens and their individual components. Though the rate of discovery continues to accelerate, the complexity of the immune system is daunting, particularly when integrated into the overall physiology of the host. Here, we review the application of multiphoton microscopy to examine host-pathogen interactions, focusing on our recent efforts to understand mouse CD8+ T-cell responses to viruses at the level of cellular interactions in lymph nodes draining the infection site. We also discuss our recent efforts to understand the influence of the sympathetic nervous system on antiviral immunity, with the ultimate goal of appreciating the traditional elements of immunity as just one facet of the total organismal response to infection and immunization.
intravital microscopy; sympathetic nervous system; T cell; vaccine; virus
Following viral infection, cells rapidly present peptides from newly synthesized viral proteins on MHC class I molecules, likely from rapidly degraded forms of nascent proteins. The nature of these defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) remains largely undefined. Using inhibitors of RNA polymerase II that block influenza A virus neuraminidase (NA) mRNA export from the nucleus and inhibit cytoplasmic NA translation, we demonstrate a surprising disconnect between levels of NA translation and generation of SIINFEKL peptide genetically inserted into the NA stalk. A 33-fold reduction in NA expression is accompanied by only a 5-fold reduction in Kb-SIINFEKL complex cell-surface expression, resulting in a net 6-fold increase in the overall efficiency of Ag presentation. Although the proteasome inhibitor MG132 completely blocked Kb-SIINFEKL complex generation, we were unable to biochemically detect a MG132-dependent cohort of NA DRiPs relevant for Ag processing, suggesting that a minute population of DRiPs is a highly efficient source of antigenic peptides. These data support the idea that Ag processing uses compartmentalized translation, perhaps even in the nucleus itself, to increase the efficiency of the generation of class I peptide ligands.
CCR5-binding chemokines produced in the draining lymph node after vaccinia virus infection guide naive CD8+ T cells toward DCs and away from the macrophage-rich zone, thereby facilitating optimal CD8+ T cell activation and cytokine production.
Naive antiviral CD8+ T cells are activated in the draining LN (DLN) by dendritic cells (DCs) presenting viral antigens. However, many viruses infect LN macrophages, which participate in initiation of innate immunity and B cell activation. To better understand how and why T cells select infected DCs rather than macrophages, we performed intravital microscopy and ex vivo analyses after infecting mice with vaccinia virus (VV), a large DNA virus that infects both LN macrophages and DCs. Although CD8+ T cells interact with both infected macrophages and DCs in the LN peripheral interfollicular region (PIR), DCs generate more frequent and stable interactions with T cells. VV infection induces rapid release of CCR5-binding chemokines in the LN, and administration of chemokine-neutralizing antibodies diminishes T cell activation by increasing T cell localization to macrophages in the macrophage-rich region (MRR) at the expense of PIR DCs. Similarly, DC ablation increases both T cell localization to the MRR and the duration of T cell–macrophage contacts, resulting in suboptimal T cell activation. Thus, virus-induced chemokines in DLNs enable antiviral CD8+ T cells to distinguish DCs from macrophages to optimize T cell priming.
The field of antigen processing and presentation has taken tremendous strides since the first international workshop in 1995. While much has been learned, much remains to be discovered. Here I discuss the most recent findings regarding the nature of substrates for the MHC class I antigen processing pathways which provide glimpses of the mist shrouded features remaining to be discovered.
In this issue, Nakamura et al. describe a robust SCID mouse-based method for isolating human monoclonal antibodies of desired specificity from adoptively transferred human B cells. As proof-of principle, they isolate human mAbs that could potentially be used to treat or prevent human infection with any influenza A virus strain.
Year in and year out, influenza viruses exact a deadly and expensive toll on humanity. Current vaccines simply do not keep pace with viral immune evasion, providing partial protection, at best, among various age groups. A quantum leap in understanding the basic principles of the adaptive and innate immune responses to influenza viruses offers the opportunity to develop vaccines that forestall, and potentially ultimately defeat, influenza virus antigenic variation.
The three proteasome subunits with proteolytic activity are encoded by standard or immunoproteasome genes. Many proteasomes expressed by normal cells and cells exposed to cytokines are “mixed”, that is, contain both standard and immunoproteasome subunits. Using a panel of 38 defined influenza A virus–derived epitopes recognized by C57BL/6 mouse CD8+ T cells, we used mice with targeted disruption of β1i, β2i, or β5i/β2i genes to examine the contribution of mixed proteasomes to the immunodominance hierarchy of antiviral CD8+ T cells. We show that each immunoproteasome subunit has large effects on the primary and recall immunodominance hierarchies due to modulating both the available T cell repertoire and generation of individual epitopes as determined both biochemically and kinetically in Ag presentation assays. These findings indicate that mixed proteasomes function to enhance the diversity of peptides and support a broad CD8+ T cell response.
Proteasomes are multisubunit proteases that initiate degradation of many Ags presented by MHC class I molecules. Vertebrates express alternate forms of each of the three catalytic proteasome subunits: standard subunits, and immunosubunits, which are constitutively expressed by APCs and are induced in other cell types by exposure to cytokines. The assembly of mixed proteasomes containing standard subunits and immunosubunits is regulated in a tissue specific manner. In this study, we report that the presence of mixed proteasomes in immune cells in LMP2−/− mice compromises multiple components that contribute to the generation of antiviral Ab responses, including splenic B cell numbers, survival and function of adoptively transferred B cells, Th cell function, and dendritic cell secretion of IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β, and type I IFNs. These defects did not result from compromised overall protein degradation, rather they were associated with altered NF-κB activity. These findings demonstrate an important role for immunoproteasomes in immune cell function beyond their contribution to Ag processing.
Antigenic variation in the globular domain of influenza A virus (IAV) hemagglutinin (HA) precludes effective immunity to this major human pathogen. Although the HA stem is highly conserved between influenza virus strains, HA stem-reactive antibodies (StRAbs) were long considered biologically inert. It is now clear, however, that StRAbs reduce viral replication in animal models and protect against pathogenicity and death, supporting the potential of HA stem-based immunogens as drift-resistant vaccines. Optimally designing StRAb-inducing immunogens and understanding StRAb effector functions require thorough comprehension of HA stem structure and antigenicity. Here, we study the biogenesis of HA stem epitopes recognized in cells infected with various drifted IAV H1N1 strains using mouse and human StRAbs. Using a novel immunofluorescence (IF)-based assay, we find that human StRAbs bind monomeric HA in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and trimerized HA in the Golgi complex (GC) with similar high avidity, potentially good news for producing effective monomeric HA stem immunogens. Though HA stem epitopes are nestled among several N-linked oligosaccharides, glycosylation is not required for full antigenicity. Rather, as N-linked glycans increase in size during intracellular transport of HA through the GC, StRAb binding becomes temperature-sensitive, binding poorly to HA at 4°C and well at 37°C. A de novo designed, 65-residue protein binds the mature HA stem independently of temperature, consistent with a lack of N-linked oligosaccharide steric hindrance due to its small size. Likewise, StRAbs bind recombinant HA carrying simple N-linked glycans in a temperature-independent manner. Chemical cross-linking experiments show that N-linked oligosaccharides likely influence StRAb binding by direct local effects rather than by globally modifying the conformational flexibility of HA. Our findings indicate that StRAb binding to HA is precarious, raising the possibility that sufficient immune pressure on the HA stem region could select for viral escape mutants with increased steric hindrance from N-linked glycans.
Extensive variation in the IAV HA globular domain severely impedes influenza vaccination. Recent findings demonstrate that StRAbs, specific Abs to the highly conserved stem region of HA, can protect hosts against a broad variety of influenza virus strains. In investigating the binding of StRAbs to HA during its biogenesis in IAV-infected cells, we find that these Abs can bind HA monomers prior to their trimerization in the GC. Binding to HA becomes temperature-dependent, however, as N-linked oligosaccharides mature during transport of trimerized HA through the GC to the cell surface. Our findings support the potential use of monomeric HA stem immunogens to induce broadly neutralizing Abs, but raise the possibility of eventual viral escape from StRAbs, based on structural alterations in the HA that increase steric hindrance of HA stem N-linked glycans on StRAb binding.
The defective ribosomal product (DRiP) hypothesis of endogenous Ag processing posits that rapidly degraded forms of nascent proteins are a major source of peptide ligands for MHC class I molecules. Although there is broad experimental support for the DRiP hypothesis, careful kinetic analysis of the generation of defined peptide class I complexes has been limited to studies of recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing genes derived from other organisms. In this study, we show that insertion of the SIIN-FEKL peptide into the stalk of influenza A virus neuraminidase (NA) does not detectably modify NA folding, degradation, transport, or sp. act. when expressed in its natural context of influenza A virus infection. Using the 25-D1.16 mAb specific for Kb-SIINFEKL to precisely quantitate cell surface complexes by flow cytometry, we demonstrate that SIINFEKL is generated in complete lockstep with initiation and abrogation of NA biosynthesis in both L-Kb fibroblast cells and DC2.4 dendritic/monocyte cells. SIINFEKL presentation requires active proteasomes and TAP, consistent with its generation from a cytosolic DRiP pool. From the difference in the shutoff kinetics of Kb-SIINFEKL complex expression following protein synthesis versus proteasome inhibition, we estimate that the t1/2 of the biosynthetic source of NA peptide is ~5 min. These observations extend the relevance of the DRiP hypothesis to viral proteins generated in their natural context.
Although the sympathetic nervous system innervates the lung, little is known about its participation in host immunity to pulmonary pathogens. In this study, we show that peripheral sympathectomy reduces mouse morbidity and mortality from influenza A virus-induced pneumonia due to reduced inflammatory influx of monocytes, neutrophils, and NK cells. Mortality was also delayed by treating mice with an α-adrenergic antagonist. Sympathectomy diminished the immediate innate cytokine responses, particularly IL-1, which was profoundly reduced. These findings demonstrate an unexpected role for the sympathetic nervous system in innate antiviral immunity and in exacerbating the pathology of a virus of great significance to human and animal health.
Cross-priming, the activation of naive CD8+ T cells by dendritic cells presenting Ags synthesized by other cells, is believed to play an important role in the generation of antiviral and antitumor responses. The molecular mechanism(s) underlying cross-priming remain poorly defined and highly controversial. GRP94 (gp96), an abundant endoplasmic reticulum chaperone with innate immune-activating capacity, has been widely reported to play a major role in cross-priming. In this study, we show that cells whose expression of GRP94 is silenced via transient or stable transfection with GRP94-directed small interfering RNAs demonstrate no reduction in their abilities to generate class I peptide complexes in cultured cells or to prime antiviral CD8+ T cell responses in vivo. In demonstrating the dispensability of GRP94, our finding points to the importance of alternative mechanisms for generation of class I peptide complexes from endogenous and exogenous Ags and immunogens.
Quantitating the frequency of T cell cross-reactivity to unrelated peptides is essential to understanding T cell responses in infectious and autoimmune diseases. Here we used 15 mouse or human CD8+ T cell clones (11 antiviral, 4 anti-self) in conjunction with a large library of defined synthetic peptides to examine nearly 30,000 TCR-peptide MHC class I interactions for cross-reactions. We identified a single cross-reaction consisting of an anti-self TCR recognizing a poxvirus peptide at relatively low sensitivity. We failed to identify any cross-reactions between the synthetic peptides in the panel and polyclonal CD8+ T cells raised to viral or alloantigens. These findings provide the best estimate to date of the frequency of T cell cross-reactivity to unrelated peptides (∼1/30,000), explaining why cross-reactions between unrelated pathogens are infrequently encountered and providing a critical parameter for understanding the scope of self-tolerance.
Translational fidelity, essential for protein and cell function, requires accurate tRNA aminoacylation. Purified aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases exhibit a fidelity of 1 error per 10,000 to 100,000 couplings 1, 2. The accuracy of tRNA aminoacylation in vivo is uncertain, however, and might be considerably lower 3–6. Here, we show that in mammalian cells, approximately 1% of methionine (Met) residues used in protein synthesis are aminoacylated to non-methionyl-tRNAs. Remarkably, Met-misacylation increases up to 10-fold upon exposing cells to live or non-infectious viruses, toll-like receptor ligands, or chemically induced oxidative stress. Met is misacylated to specific non-methionyl-tRNA families, and these Met-misacylated tRNAs are used in translation. Met-misacylation is blocked by an inhibitor of cellular oxidases, implicating reactive oxygen species (ROS) as the misacylation trigger. Among six amino acids tested, tRNA misacylation occurs exclusively with Met. As Met residues are known to protect proteins against ROS-mediated damage 7, we propose that Met-misacylation functions adaptively to increase Met incorporation into proteins to protect cells against oxidative stress. In demonstrating an unexpected conditional aspect of decoding mRNA, our findings illustrate the importance of considering alternative iterations of the genetic code.
The action of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) on mouse T cell receptor (TCR) genes accounts for ∼ 90% of T cell repertoire diversity. We report that in TdT -/- mice, total TCD8+ responses to influenza and vaccinia viruses are reduced by ∼ 30% relative to wt mice. We find that TCD8+ responses to 3 subdominant influenza virus determinants are reduced to background values in TdT -/- mice while responses to 3 immunodominant determinants undergo a major reshuffling. A similar reshuffling occurs in TCD8+ responses to immunodominant vaccinia virus determinants, and is clearly based on broad differences in TCR family usage and CDR3 length between wt and TdT -/- mice. These findings demonstrate that TdT plays a critical role in the magnitude and breadth of anti-viral TCD8+ responses toward individual determinants and suggests that germline TCR repertoire bias towards the most dominant determinants is a major factor in establishing immunodominance hierarchies.
Human influenza A virus (IAV) vaccination is limited by “antigenic drift,” rapid antibody-driven escape reflecting amino acid substitutions in the globular domain of hemagglutinin (HA), the viral attachment protein. To better understand drift, we used anti-hemagglutinin monoclonal Abs (mAbs) to sequentially select IAV escape mutants. Twelve selection steps, each resulting in a single amino acid substitution in the hemagglutinin globular domain, were required to eliminate antigenicity defined by monoclonal or polyclonal Abs. Sequential mutants grow robustly, showing the structural plasticity of HA, although several hemagglutinin substitutions required an epistatic substitution in the neuraminidase glycoprotein to maximize growth. Selecting escape mutants from parental versus sequential variants with the same mAb revealed distinct escape repertoires, attributed to contextual changes in antigenicity and the mutation landscape. Since each hemagglutinin mutation potentially sculpts future mutation space, drift can follow many stochastic paths, undermining its unpredictability and underscoring the need for drift-insensitive vaccines.