Cysteine-containing peptides represent an important class of T cell epitopes, yet their prevalence remains underestimated. We have established and interrogated a database of around 70,000 naturally processed MHC-bound peptides and demonstrate that cysteine-containing peptides are presented on the surface of cells in an MHC allomorph-dependent manner and comprise on average 5-10% of the immunopeptidome. A significant proportion of these peptides are oxidatively modified, most commonly through covalent linkage with the antioxidant glutathione. Unlike some of the previously reported cysteine-based modifications, this represents a true physiological alteration of cysteine residues. Furthermore, our results suggest that alterations in the cellular redox state induced by viral infection are communicated to the immune system through the presentation of S-glutathionylated viral peptides, resulting in altered T cell recognition. Our data provide a structural basis for how the glutathione modification alters recognition by virus-specific T cells. Collectively, these results suggest that oxidative stress represents a mechanism for modulating the virus-specific T cell response.
Class I HLAs generally present peptides of 8-10 aa in length, although it is unclear whether peptide length preferences are affected by HLA polymorphism. In this study, we investigated the CD8(+) T cell response to the BZLF1 Ag of EBV, which includes overlapping sequences of different size that nevertheless conform to the binding motif of the large and abundant HLA-B*44 supertype. Whereas HLA-B*18:01(+) individuals responded strongly and exclusively to the octamer peptide (173)SELEIKRY(180), HLA-B*44:03(+) individuals responded to the atypically large dodecamer peptide (169)EECDSELEIKRY(180), which encompasses the octamer peptide. Moreover, the octamer peptide bound more stably to HLA-B*18:01 than did the dodecamer peptide, whereas, conversely, HLA-B*44:03 bound only the longer peptide. Furthermore, crystal structures of these viral peptide-HLA complexes showed that the Ag-binding cleft of HLA-B*18:01 was more ideally suited to bind shorter peptides, whereas HLA-B*44:03 exhibited characteristics that favored the presentation of longer peptides. Mass spectrometric identification of > 1000 naturally presented ligands revealed that HLA-B*18:01 was more biased toward presenting shorter peptides than was HLA-B*44:03. Collectively, these data highlight a mechanism through which polymorphism within an HLA class I supertype can diversify determinant selection and immune responses by varying peptide length preferences.
Human T cells that express a T cell antigen receptor (TCR) containing ?-chain variable region 9 and ?-chain variable region 2 (V?9V?2) recognize phosphorylated prenyl metabolites as antigens in the presence of antigen-presenting cells but independently of major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the MHC class I-related molecule MR1 and antigen-presenting CD1 molecules. Here we used genetic approaches to identify the molecule that binds and presents phosphorylated antigens. We found that the butyrophilin BTN3A1 bound phosphorylated antigens with low affinity, at a stoichiometry of 1:1, and stimulated mouse T cells with transgenic expression of a human V?9V?2 TCR. The structures of the BTN3A1 distal domain in complex with host- or microbe-derived phosphorylated antigens had an immunoglobulin-like fold in which the antigens bound in a shallow pocket. Soluble V?9V?2 TCR interacted specifically with BTN3A1-antigen complexes. Accordingly, BTN3A1 represents an antigen-presenting molecule required for the activation of V?9V?2 T cells.
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes are the most polymorphic in the human genome and are critical in regulating specific immunity, hence their historical discovery as "immune response" genes. HLA allotypes are also implicated in unwanted immune reactions, including drug hypersensitivity syndrome, in which small therapeutic drugs interact with antigenic peptides to drive T cell responses restricted by host HLA. Abacavir, allo-purinol, and carbamazepine are three commonly used drugs that cause a T cell-mediated hypersensitivity that is HLA linked, with each drug exhibiting striking specificity for presentation by defined HLA allotypes. Recent findings have begun to unearth the mechanistic basis for these HLA associations, and here we review recent advances in the field of HLA-associated drug hypersensitivities.
Polymorphic differences between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules affect the specificity and conformation of their bound peptides and lead to differential selection of the T-cell repertoire. Mismatching during allogeneic transplantation can, therefore, lead to immunological reactions.
Residues within processed protein fragments bound to major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) glycoproteins have been considered to function as a series of "independent pegs" that either anchor the peptide (p) to the MHC-I and/or interact with the spectrum of alphabeta-T-cell receptors (TCRs) specific for the pMHC-I epitope in question. Mining of the extensive pMHC-I structural database established that many self- and viral peptides show extensive and direct interresidue interactions, an unexpected finding that has led us to the idea of "constrained" peptides. Mutational analysis of two constrained peptides (the HLA B44 restricted self-peptide (B44DPalpha-EEFGRAFSF) and an H2-D(b) restricted influenza peptide (D(b)PA, SSLENFRAYV) demonstrated that the conformation of the prominently exposed arginine in both peptides was governed by interactions with MHC-I-orientated flanking residues from the peptide itself. Using reverse genetics in a murine influenza model, we revealed that mutation of an MHC-I-orientated residue (SSLENFRAYV --> SSLENARAYV) within the constrained PA peptide resulted in a diminished cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response and the recruitment of a limited pMHC-I specific TCR repertoire. Interactions between individual peptide positions can thus impose fine control on the conformation of pMHC-I epitopes, whereas the perturbation of such constraints can lead to a previously unappreciated mechanism of viral escape.
Since being proposed nearly 25 years ago that MHC-I molecules free of peptide ligand possess a conformation that is distinct from that of the mature loaded form, considerable research has been conducted in order to isolate and characterise such a species. While some progress has been made in our understanding, many questions still surround the nature and loading of empty MHC-I. However, the necessary tools to address these questions may finally be at hand.
Celiac disease is a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2- and/or DQ8-associated T cell-mediated disorder that is induced by dietary gluten. Although it is established how gluten peptides bind HLA-DQ8 and HLA-DQ2, it is unclear how such peptide-HLA complexes are engaged by the T cell receptor (TCR), a recognition event that triggers disease pathology. We show that biased TCR usage (TRBV9(?)01) underpins the recognition of HLA-DQ8-?-I-gliadin. The structure of a prototypical TRBV9(?)01-TCR-HLA-DQ8-?-I-gliadin complex shows that the TCR docks centrally above HLA-DQ8-?-I-gliadin, in which all complementarity-determining region-? (CDR?) loops interact with the gliadin peptide. Mutagenesis at the TRBV9(?)01-TCR-HLA-DQ8-?-I-gliadin interface provides an energetic basis for the V? bias. Moreover, CDR3 diversity accounts for TRBV9(?)01(+) TCRs exhibiting differing reactivities toward the gliadin epitopes at various deamidation states. Accordingly, biased TCR usage is an important factor in the pathogenesis of DQ8-mediated celiac disease.
Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are divided into type I and type II subsets on the basis of differences in their T cell antigen receptor (TCR) repertoire and CD1d-antigen specificity. Although the mode by which type I NKT cell TCRs recognize CD1d-antigen has been established, how type II NKT cell TCRs engage CD1d-antigen is unknown. Here we provide a basis for how a type II NKT cell TCR, XV19, recognized CD1d-sulfatide. The XV19 TCR bound orthogonally above the A pocket of CD1d, in contrast to the parallel docking of type I NKT cell TCRs over the F pocket of CD1d. At the XV19 TCR-CD1d-sulfatide interface, the TCR? and TCR? chains sat centrally on CD1d, where the malleable CDR3 loops dominated interactions with CD1d-sulfatide. Accordingly, we highlight the diverse mechanisms by which NKT cell TCRs can bind CD1d and account for the distinct antigen specificity of type II NKT cells.
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