Poor Antigen Processing of Poxvirus Particles Limits CD4+ T Cell Recognition and Impacts Immunogenicity of the Inactivated Vaccine.
ABSTRACT: CD4+ T cells play critical roles in defending against poxviruses, both by potentiating cellular and humoral responses and by directly killing infected cells. Despite this central role, the basis for pox-specific CD4+ T cell activation, specifically the origin of the poxvirus-derived peptides (epitopes) that activate CD4+ T cells, remains poorly understood. In addition, because the current licensed poxvirus vaccines can cause serious adverse events and even death, elucidating the requirements for MHC class II (MHC-II) processing and presentation of poxviral Ags could be of great use. To address these questions, we explored the CD4+ T cell immunogenicity of ectromelia, the causative agent of mousepox. Having identified a large panel of novel epitopes via a screen of algorithm-selected synthetic peptides, we observed that immunization of mice with inactivated poxvirus primes a virtually undetectable CD4+ T cell response, even when adjuvanted, and is unable to provide protection against disease after a secondary challenge. We postulated that an important contributor to this outcome is the poor processability of whole virions for MHC-II-restricted presentation. In line with this hypothesis, we observed that whole poxvirions are very inefficiently converted into MHC-II-binding peptides by the APC as compared with subviral material. Thus, stability of the virion structure is a critical consideration in the rational design of a safe alternative to the existing live smallpox vaccine.
Project description:Smallpox and monkeypox pose severe threats to human health. Other orthopoxviruses are comparably virulent in their natural hosts, including ectromelia, the cause of mousepox. Disease severity is linked to an array of immunomodulatory proteins including the B22 family, which has homologs in all pathogenic orthopoxviruses but not attenuated vaccine strains. We demonstrate that the ectromelia B22 member, C15, is necessary and sufficient for selective inhibition of CD4+ but not CD8+ T cell activation by immunogenic peptide and superantigen. Inhibition is achieved not by down-regulation of surface MHC- II or co-stimulatory protein surface expression but rather by interference with antigen presentation. The appreciable outcome is interference with CD4+ T cell synapse formation as determined by imaging studies and lipid raft disruption. Consequently, CD4+ T cell activating stimulus shifts to uninfected antigen-presenting cells that have received antigen from infected cells. This work provides insight into the immunomodulatory strategies of orthopoxviruses by elucidating a mechanism for specific targeting of CD4+ T cell activation, reflecting the importance of this cell type in control of the virus.
Project description:Naïve anti-viral CD8+ T cells (TCD8+) are activated by the presence of peptide-MHC Class I complexes (pMHC-I) on the surface of professional antigen presenting cells (pAPC). Increasing the number of pMHC-I in vivo can increase the number of responding TCD8+. Antigen can be presented directly or indirectly (cross presentation) from virus-infected and uninfected cells, respectively. Here we determined the relative importance of these two antigen presenting pathways in mousepox, a natural disease of the mouse caused by the poxvirus, ectromelia (ECTV). We demonstrated that ECTV infected several pAPC types (macrophages, B cells, and dendritic cells (DC), including DC subsets), which directly presented pMHC-I to naïve TCD8+ with similar efficiencies in vitro. We also provided evidence that these same cell-types presented antigen in vivo, as they form contacts with antigen-specific TCD8+. Importantly, the number of pMHC-I on infected pAPC (direct presentation) vastly outnumbered those on uninfected cells (cross presentation), where presentation only occurred in a specialized subset of DC. In addition, prior maturation of DC failed to enhance antigen presentation, but markedly inhibited ECTV infection of DC. These results suggest that direct antigen presentation is the dominant pathway in mice during mousepox. In a broader context, these findings indicate that if a virus infects a pAPC then the presentation by that cell is likely to dominate over cross presentation as the most effective mode of generating large quantities of pMHC-I is on the surface of pAPC that endogenously express antigens. Recent trends in vaccine design have focused upon the introduction of exogenous antigens into the MHC Class I processing pathway (cross presentation) in specific pAPC populations. However, use of a pantropic viral vector that targets pAPC to express antigen endogenously likely represents a more effective vaccine strategy than the targeting of exogenous antigen to a limiting pAPC subpopulation.
Project description:The genetic variability of nine genes in 12 isolates and strains of ectromelia virus, which causes a smallpox-like disease (mousepox) in mice, was determined and allows for classification of ectromelia viruses. The low genetic variability suggests that evolutionary pressure maintains the activity of immunomodulatory genes in natural poxvirus infections.
Project description:Vaccination with vaccinia virus (VACV) elicits heterotypic immunity to smallpox, monkeypox, and mousepox, the mechanistic basis for which is poorly understood. It is generally assumed that heterotypic immunity arises from the presentation of a wide array of VACV-derived, CD8+ T cell epitopes that share homology with other poxviruses. Herein this assumption was tested using a large panel of VACV-derived peptides presented by HLA-B*07:02 (B7.2) molecules in a mousepox/ectromelia virus (ECTV)-infection, B7.2 transgenic mouse model. Most dominant epitopes recognized by ECTV- and VACV-reactive CD8+ T cells overlapped significantly without altering immunodominance hierarchy. Further, several epitopes recognized by ECTV-reactive CD8+ T cells were not recognized by VACV-reactive CD8+ T cells, and vice versa. In one instance, the lack of recognition owed to a N72K variation in the ECTV C4R70-78 variant of the dominant VACV B8R70-78 epitope. C4R70-78 does not bind to B7.2 and, hence, it was neither immunogenic nor antigenic. These findings provide a mechanistic basis for VACV vaccination-induced heterotypic immunity which can protect against Variola and Monkeypox disease. The understanding of how cross-reactive responses develop is essential for the rational design of a subunit-based vaccine that would be safe, and effectively protect against heterologous infection.
Project description:Both immature and mature dendritic cells (DCs) can process and present foreign Ags to CD4 T cells; however, the mechanism by which MHC class II (MHC-II) in mature DCs acquires antigenic peptides remains unknown. To address this, we have studied Ag processing and presentation of two distinct CD4 T cell epitopes of the influenza virus hemagglutinin coat protein by both immature and mature mouse DCs. We find that immature DCs almost exclusively use newly synthesized MHC-II targeted to DM<sup>+</sup> late endosomes for presentation to influenza virus-specific CD4 T cells. By contrast, mature DCs exclusively use recycling MHC-II that traffics to both early and late endosomes for antigenic peptide binding. Rab11a knockdown partially inhibits recycling of MHC-II in mature DCs and selectively inhibits presentation of an influenza virus hemagglutinin CD4 T cell epitope generated in early endosomes. These studies highlight a "division of labor" in MHC-II peptide binding, in which immature DCs preferentially present Ags acquired in Rab11a<sup>-</sup> DM<sup>+</sup> late endosomes, whereas mature DCs use recycling MHC-II to present antigenic peptides acquired in both Rab11a<sup>+</sup> early endosomes and Rab11a<sup>-</sup> endosomes for CD4 T cell activation.
Project description:Despite the importance of vaccinia virus in basic and applied immunology, our knowledge of the human immune response directed against this virus is very limited. CD4(+) T cell responses are an important component of immunity induced by current vaccinia-based vaccines, and likely will be required for new subunit vaccine approaches, but to date vaccinia-specific CD4(+) T cell responses have been poorly characterized, and CD4(+) T cell epitopes have been reported only recently. Classical approaches used to identify T cell epitopes are not practical for large genomes like vaccinia. We developed and validated a highly efficient computational approach that combines prediction of class II MHC-peptide binding activity with prediction of antigen processing and presentation. Using this approach and screening only 36 peptides, we identified 25 epitopes recognized by T cells from vaccinia-immune individuals. Although the predictions were made for HLA-DR1, eight of the peptides were recognized by donors of multiple haplotypes. T cell responses were observed in samples of peripheral blood obtained many years after primary vaccination, and were amplified after booster immunization. Peptides recognized by multiple donors are highly conserved across the poxvirus family, including variola, the causative agent of smallpox, and may be useful in development of a new generation of smallpox vaccines and in the analysis of the immune response elicited to vaccinia virus. Moreover, the epitope identification approach developed here should find application to other large-genome pathogens.
Project description:HLA-DM (DM) is a nonclassical MHC class II (MHC II) protein that acts as a peptide editor to mediate the exchange of peptides loaded onto MHC II during Ag presentation. Although the ability of DM to promote peptide exchange in vitro and in vivo is well established, the role of DM in epitope selection is still unclear, especially in human response to infectious disease. In this study, we addressed this question in the context of the human CD4 T cell response to vaccinia virus. We measured the IC(50), intrinsic dissociation t(1/2), and DM-mediated dissociation t(1/2) for a large set of peptides derived from the major core protein A10L and other known vaccinia epitopes bound to HLA-DR1 and compared these properties to the presence and magnitude of peptide-specific CD4(+) T cell responses. We found that MHC II-peptide complex kinetic stability in the presence of DM distinguishes T cell epitopes from nonrecognized peptides in A10L peptides and also in a set of predicted tight binders from the entire vaccinia genome. Taken together, these analyses demonstrate that DM-mediated dissociation t(1/2) is a strong and independent factor governing peptide immunogenicity by favoring the presentation of peptides with greater kinetic stability in the presence of DM.
Project description:The nature of autoantigens that trigger autoimmune diseases has been much discussed, but direct biochemical identification is lacking for most. Addressing this question demands unbiased examination of the self-peptides displayed by a defined autoimmune major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecule. Here, we examined the immunopeptidome of the pancreatic islets in non-obese diabetic mice, which spontaneously develop autoimmune diabetes based on the I-Ag7 variant of MHC-II. The relevant peptides that induced pathogenic CD4+ T cells at the initiation of diabetes derived from proinsulin. These peptides were also found in the MHC-II peptidome of the pancreatic lymph nodes and spleen. The proinsulin-derived peptides followed a trajectory from their generation and exocytosis in ? cells to uptake and presentation in islets and peripheral sites. Such a pathway generated conventional epitopes but also resulted in the presentation of post-translationally modified peptides, including deamidated sequences. These analyses reveal the key features of a restricted component in the self-MHC-II peptidome that caused autoreactivity.
Project description:CD4+ T cells have a major role in regulating immune responses. They are activated by recognition of peptides mostly generated from exogenous antigens through the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II pathway. Identification of epitopes is important and computational prediction of epitopes is used widely to save time and resources. Although there are algorithms to predict binding affinity of peptides to MHC II molecules, no accurate methods exist to predict which ligands are generated as a result of natural antigen processing. We utilized a dataset of around 14,000 naturally processed ligands identified by mass spectrometry of peptides eluted from MHC class II expressing cells to investigate the existence of sequence signatures potentially related to the cleavage mechanisms that liberate the presented peptides from their source antigens. This analysis revealed preferred amino acids surrounding both N- and C-terminuses of ligands, indicating sequence-specific cleavage preferences. We used these cleavage motifs to develop a method for predicting naturally processed MHC II ligands, and validated that it had predictive power to identify ligands from independent studies. We further confirmed that prediction of ligands based on cleavage motifs could be combined with predictions of MHC binding, and that the combined prediction had superior performance. However, when attempting to predict CD4+ T cell epitopes, either alone or in combination with MHC binding predictions, predictions based on the cleavage motifs did not show predictive power. Given that peptides identified as epitopes based on CD4+ T cell reactivity typically do not have well-defined termini, it is possible that motifs are present but outside of the mapped epitope. Our attempts to take that into account computationally did not show any sign of an increased presence of cleavage motifs around well-characterized CD4+ T cell epitopes. While it is possible that our attempts to translate the cleavage motifs in MHC II ligand elution data into T cell epitope predictions were suboptimal, other possible explanations are that the cleavage signal is too diluted to be detected, or that elution data are enriched for ligands generated through an antigen processing and presentation pathway that is less frequently utilized for T cell epitopes.
Project description:Predictive tools for all levels of CD8+ T cell epitopes processing have reached a maturation level. Good prediction algorithms have been developed for proteasomal cleavage, TAP and MHC class I peptide binding. The same cannot be said of CD4+ T cell epitopes. While multiple algorithms of varying accuracy have been proposed for MHC class II peptide binding, the preprocessing of CD4+ T cell epitopes is still lacking a good prediction algorithm. CD4+ T cell epitopes generation includes several stages, not all which are well-defined. We here group these stages to produce a generic preprocessing stage predictor for the cleavage processes preceding the presentation of epitopes to CD4+ T cell. The predictor is learnt using a combination of in vitro cleavage experiments and observed naturally processed MHC class II binding peptides. The properties of the predictor highlight the effect of different factors on CD4+ T cell epitopes preprocessing. The most important factor emerging from the predictor is the secondary structure of the cleaved region in the protein. The effect of the secondary structure is expected since CD4+ T cell epitopes are not denatured before cleavage. A website developed based on this predictor is available at: http://peptibase.cs.biu.ac.il/PepCleave_cd4/.