Dendritic cells sequester antigenic epitopes for prolonged periods in the absence of antigen-encoding genetic information.
ABSTRACT: Studies with a number of viral systems have shown, on the basis of the ability of a host to prime naïve T cells, that viral antigens persist in the infected host well beyond complete clearance of the infection and even when viral antigen is undetectable by the most sensitive methods. This has led to a reasonable assumption that the antigen persists through persistence of antigen-encoding genetic information (DNA or RNA) that resides in the host at a subdetectable level. Here, we demonstrate that epitopes, or epitope precursors, of a model antigen (ovalbumin) persist in a host for prolonged periods (weeks), well beyond the time at which the intact antigen has disappeared, and in the complete absence of genetic information encoding it. Dendritic cells are shown to be the site of this epitope sequestration in vivo, as well as in cultures in vitro. For sequestration to occur, the uptaken antigen must be significantly large, that is, the epitope and its 18-mer precursor are not sequestered. Dendritic cells are shown to create an hsp90-dependent intracellular pool of epitopes or epitope precursors that continues to release epitopes for presentation on the major histocompatibility complex I molecules for prolonged periods. Demonstration of such long-term sequestration of antigenic epitopes inside dendritic cells presents new opportunities for stimulation of immune response against cancers and viruses.
Project description:The large diversity in MHC class I molecules in a population lowers the chance that a virus infects a host to which it is pre-adapted to escape the MHC binding of CTL epitopes. However, viruses can also lose CTL epitopes by escaping the monomorphic antigen processing components of the pathway (proteasome and TAP) that create the epitope precursors. If viruses were to accumulate escape mutations affecting these monomorphic components, they would become pre-adapted to all hosts regardless of the MHC polymorphism. To assess whether viruses exploit this apparent vulnerability, we study the evolution of HIV-1 with bioinformatic tools that allow us to predict CTL epitopes, and quantify the frequency and accumulation of antigen processing escapes. We found that within hosts, proteasome and TAP escape mutations occur frequently. However, on the population level these escapes do not accumulate: the total number of predicted epitopes and epitope precursors in HIV-1 clade B has remained relatively constant over the last 30 years. We argue that this lack of adaptation can be explained by the combined effect of the MHC polymorphism and the high specificity of individual MHC molecules. Because of these two properties, only a subset of the epitope precursors in a host are potential epitopes, and that subset differs between hosts. We estimate that upon transmission of a virus to a new host 39%-66% of the mutations that caused epitope precursor escapes are released from immune selection pressure.
Project description:Both the recognition of HIV-infected cells and the immunogenicity of candidate CTL vaccines depend on the presentation of a peptide epitope at the cell surface, which in turn depends on intracellular antigen processing. Differential antigen processing maybe responsible for the differences in both the quality and the quantity of epitopes produced, influencing the immunodominance hierarchy of viral epitopes. Previously, we showed that the magnitude of the HIV-2 gag-specific T-cell response is inversely correlated with plasma viral load, particularly when responses are directed against an epitope, 165 DRFYKSLRA173 , within the highly conserved Major Homology Region of gag-p26. We also showed that the presence of three proline residues, at positions 119, 159 and 178 of gag-p26, was significantly correlated with low viral load. Since this proline motif was also associated with stronger gag-specific CTL responses, we investigated the impact of these prolines on proteasomal processing of the protective 165 DRFYKSLRA173 epitope. Our data demonstrate that the 165 DRFYKSLRA173 epitope is most efficiently processed from precursors that contain two flanking proline residues, found naturally in low viral-load patients. Superior antigen processing and enhanced presentation may account for the link between infection with HIV-2 encoding the "PPP-gag" sequence and both strong gag-specific CTL responses as well as lower viral load.
Project description:Current knowledge about the dynamics of antigen presentation to T cells during viral infection is very poor despite being of fundamental importance to our understanding of anti-viral immunity. Here we use an advanced mass spectrometry method to simultaneously quantify the presentation of eight vaccinia virus peptide-MHC complexes (epitopes) on infected cells and the amounts of their source antigens at multiple times after infection. The results show a startling 1000-fold range in abundance as well as strikingly different kinetics across the epitopes monitored. The tight correlation between onset of protein expression and epitope display for most antigens provides the strongest support to date that antigen presentation is largely linked to translation and not later degradation of antigens. Finally, we show a complete disconnect between the epitope abundance and immunodominance hierarchy of these eight epitopes. This study highlights the complexity of viral antigen presentation by the host and demonstrates the weakness of simple models that assume total protein levels are directly linked to epitope presentation and immunogenicity.
Project description:In order to improve the processing efficiency of T cell tumor antigen epitopes, this bioinformatic study compares proteolytic sites in the generation of 47 experimentally identified HLA-A2.1-restricted immunodominant tumor antigen epitopes to those of 52 documented HLA-A2.1-restricted immunodominant viral antigen epitopes. Our results show that the amino acid frequencies in the C-terminal cleavage sites of the tumor antigen epitopes, as well as several positions within the 10 amino acid (aa) flanking regions, are significantly different from those of the viral antigen epitopes. In the 9 amino acid epitope region, frequencies differed somewhat in the secondary-anchored amino acid residues on E3 (the third aa of the epitope), E4, E6, E7 and E8; however, frequencies in the primary-anchored positions, on E2 and E9, for binding in the HLA-A2.1 groove, remained almost identical. The most frequently occurring amino acid pairs in both N-terminal and C-terminal cleavage sites in the generation of tumor antigen epitopes were different from those of the viral antigen epitopes. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that these two groups of epitopes may be cleaved by distinct sets of proteasomes and peptidases or similar enzymes with lower efficiencies for tumor epitopes. In the future, in order to more effectively generate tumor antigen epitopes, targeted activation of the immunoproteasomes and peptidases that mediate the cleavage of viral epitopes could be achieved, thus enhancing our potential for antigen-specific tumor immunotherapy.
Project description:Viruses that naturally infect cells expressing both MHC I and MHC II molecules render themselves potentially visible to both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells through the de novo expression of viral antigens. Here we use one such pathogen, the B-lymphotropic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), to examine the kinetics of these processes in the virally-infected cell, comparing newly synthesised polypeptides versus the mature protein pool as viral antigen sources for MHC I- and MHC II-restricted presentation. EBV-transformed B cell lines were established in which the expression of two cognate EBV antigens, EBNA1 and EBNA3B, could be induced and then completely suppressed by doxycycline-regulation. These cells were used as targets for CD8+ and CD4+ T cell clones to a range of EBNA1 and EBNA3B epitopes. For both antigens, when synthesis was induced, CD8 epitope display rose quickly to near maximum within 24 h, well before steady state levels of mature protein had been reached, whereas CD4 epitope presentation was delayed by 36-48 h and rose only slowly thereafter. When antigen expression was suppressed, despite the persistence of mature protein, CD8 epitope display fell rapidly at rates similar to that seen for the MHC I/epitope half-life in peptide pulse-chase experiments. By contrast, CD4 epitope display persisted for many days and, following peptide stripping, recovered well on cells in the absence of new antigen synthesis. We infer that, in virally-infected MHC I/II-positive cells, newly-synthesised polypeptides are the dominant source of antigen feeding the MHC I pathway, whereas the MHC II pathway is fed by the mature protein pool. Hence, newly-infected cells are rapidly visible only to the CD8 response; by contrast, latent infections, in which viral gene expression has been extinguished yet viral proteins persist, will remain visible to CD4+ T cells.
Project description:HIV-1 mutations, which reduce or abolish CTL responses against virus-infected cells, are frequently selected in acute and chronic HIV infection. Among population HIV-1 sequences, immune selection is evident as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele-associated substitutions of amino acids within or near CD8 T-cell epitopes. In these cases, the non-adapted epitope is susceptible to immune recognition until an escape mutation renders the epitope less immunogenic. However, several population-based studies have independently identified HLA-associated viral changes, which lead to the formation of a new T-cell epitope, suggesting that the immune responses that these variants or 'neo-epitopes' elicit provide an evolutionary advantage to the virus rather than the host. Here, we examined the functional characteristics of eight CD8 T-cell responses that result from viral adaptation in 125 HLA-genotyped individuals with chronic HIV-1 infection. Neo-epitopes included well-characterized immunodominant epitopes restricted by common HLA alleles, and in most cases the T-cell responses against the neo-epitope showed significantly greater functional avidity and higher IFN? production than T cells for non-adapted epitopes, but were not more cytotoxic. Neo-epitope formation and emergence of cognate T-cell response coincident with a rise in viral load was then observed in vivo in an acutely infected individual. These findings show that HIV-1 adaptation not only abrogates the immune recognition of early targeted epitopes, but may also increase immune recognition to other epitopes, which elicit immunodominant but non-protective T-cell responses. These data have implications for immunodominance associated with polyvalent vaccines based on the diversity of chronic HIV-1 sequences.
Project description:Delineation of antibody epitopes at the residue level is key to understanding antigen resistance mutations, designing epitope-specific probes for antibody isolation, and developing epitope-based vaccines. Ideally, epitope residues are determined in the context of the atomic-level structure of the antibody-antigen complex, though structure determination may in many cases be impractical. Here we describe an efficient computational method to predict antibody-specific HIV-1 envelope (Env) epitopes at the residue level, based on neutralization panels of diverse viral strains. The method primarily utilizes neutralization potency data over a set of diverse viral strains representing the antigen, and enhanced accuracy could be achieved by incorporating information from the unbound structure of the antigen. The method was evaluated on 19 HIV-1 Env antibodies with neutralization panels comprising 181 diverse viral strains and with available antibody-antigen complex structures. Prediction accuracy was shown to improve significantly over random selection, with an average of greater-than-8-fold enrichment of true positives at the 0.05 false-positive rate level. The method was used to prospectively predict epitope residues for two HIV-1 antibodies, 8ANC131 and 8ANC195, for which we experimentally validated the predictions. The method is inherently applicable to antigens that exhibit sequence diversity, and its accuracy was found to correlate inversely with sequence conservation of the epitope. Together the results show how knowledge inherent to a neutralization panel and unbound antigen structure can be utilized for residue-level prediction of antibody epitopes.
Project description:CD8+ T cell responses to viral infection are characterized by the emergence of dominant and subdominant CTL populations. The immunodominance hierarchies of these populations are highly reproducible for any given spectrum of virus-induced peptide-MHCI complexes and are likely determined by multiple factors. Recent studies demonstrate a direct correlation between naive epitope-specific CD8+ T cell precursor (CTLp) frequency and the magnitude of the response after antigen challenge. Thus, the number of available precursors in the naive pool has emerged as a key predictor of immunodominance. In contrast to this, we report here no consistent relationship between CTLp frequency and the subsequent magnitude of the immune response for 4 influenza virus-derived epitopes following intranasal infection of mice with influenza A virus. Rather, the characteristic, antigen-driven T cell immunodominance hierarchy was determined by the extent of recruitment from the available pool of epitope-specific precursors and the duration of their continued expansion over the course of the infection. These findings suggest possibilities for enhancing protective immune memory by maximizing both the size and diversity of typically subdominant T cell responses through rational vaccine design.
Project description:A monoclonal antibody against the C-type lectin DEC205 (?DEC205) is an effective vehicle for delivery of antigens to dendritic cells through creation of covalent ?DEC205-antigen adducts. These adducts can induce antigen-specific T-cell immune responses or tolerance. We exploit the transpeptidase activity of sortase to install modified peptides and protein-sized antigens onto the heavy chain of ?DEC205, including linkers that contain nonnatural amino acids. We demonstrate stoichiometric site-specific labeling on a scale not easily achievable by genetic fusions (49 distinct fusions in this report). We conjugated a biotinylated version of a class I MHC-restricted epitope to unlabeled ?DEC205 and monitored epitope generation upon binding of the adduct to dendritic cells. Our results show transfer of ?DEC205 heavy chain to the cytoplasm, followed by proteasomal degradation. Introduction of a labile dipeptide linker at the N terminus of a T-cell epitope improves proteasome-dependent class I MHC-restricted peptide cross-presentation when delivered by ?DEC205 in vitro and in vivo. We also conjugated ?DEC205 with a linker-optimized peptide library of known CD8 T-cell epitopes from the mouse ?-herpes virus 68. Animals immunized with such conjugates displayed a 10-fold reduction in viral load.
Project description:Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman's disease. It is postulated that CD8(+) T cell responses play an important role in controlling HHV-8 infection and preventing development of disease. In this study, we investigated monofunctional and polyfunctional CD8(+) T cell responses to HHV-8 lytic proteins gB (glycoprotein B) and K8.1 and latency proteins LANA-1 (latency-associated nuclear antigen-1) and K12. On the basis of our previous findings that dendritic cells (DC) reveal major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I epitopes in gB, we used a DC-based system to identify 2 novel epitopes in gB, 2 in K8.1, 5 in LANA-1, and 1 in K12. These new HHV-8 epitopes activated monofunctional and polyfunctional CD8(+) T cells that produced various combinations of gamma interferon, interleukin 2, tumor necrosis factor alpha, macrophage inhibitory protein 1?, and cytotoxic degranulation marker CD107a in healthy HHV-8-seropositive individuals. We were also able to detect HHV-8-specific CD8(+) T cells in peripheral blood samples using HLA A*0201 pentamer complexes for one gB epitope, one K8.1 epitope, two LANA-1 epitopes, and one K12 epitope. These immunogenic regions of viral lytic and latency proteins could be important in T cell control of HHV-8 infection.