Susceptibility to chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is linked to certain HLA-DP molecules, including HLA-DP2. To elucidate the molecular basis of this association, we exposed mice transgenic (Tg) for HLA-DP2 to beryllium oxide (BeO) via oropharyngeal aspiration. As opposed to WT mice, BeO-exposed HLA-DP2 Tg mice developed mononuclear infiltrates in a peribronchovascular distribution that were composed of CD4(+) T cells and included regulatory T (Treg) cells. Beryllium-responsive, HLA-DP2-restricted CD4(+) T cells expressing IFN-? and IL-2 were present in BeO-exposed HLA-DP2 Tg mice and not in WT mice. Using Be-loaded HLA-DP2-peptide tetramers, we identified Be-specific CD4(+) T cells in the mouse lung that recognize identical ligands as CD4(+) T cells derived from the human lung. Importantly, a subset of HLA-DP2 tetramer-binding CD4(+) T cells expressed forkhead box P3, consistent with the expansion of antigen-specific Treg cells. Depletion of Treg cells in BeO-exposed HLA-DP2 Tg mice exacerbated lung inflammation and enhanced granuloma formation. These findings document, for the first time to our knowledge, the development of a Be-specific adaptive immune response in mice expressing HLA-DP2 and the ability of Treg cells to modulate the beryllium-induced granulomatous immune response.
A major goal for immunotherapy is to tolerize the immune cells that coordinate tissue damage in autoimmune and alloantigen responses. CD4 T cells play a central role in many of these conditions and improved antigen-specific regulation or removal of these cells could revolutionize current treatments. A confounding factor is that little is known about whether and how tolerance is induced in memory CD4 T cells. We used MHC class II tetramers to track and analyze a population of endogenous antigen-specific memory CD4 T cells exposed to soluble peptide in the absence of adjuvant. We found that such memory T cells proliferated and reentered the memory pool apparently unperturbed by the incomplete activation signals provided by the peptide. Upon further restimulation in vivo, CD4 memory T cells that had been previously exposed to peptide proliferated, provided help to primary responding B cells, and migrated to inflamed sites. However, these reactivated memory cells failed to survive. The reduction in T-cell number was marked by low expression of the antiapoptotic molecule B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl2) and increased expression of activated caspase molecules. Consequently, these cells failed to sustain a delayed-type hypersensitivity response. Moreover, following two separate exposures to soluble antigen, no T-cell recall response and no helper activity for B cells could be detected. These results suggest that the induction of tolerance in memory CD4 T cells is possible but that deletion and permanent removal of the antigen-specific T cells requires reactivation following exposure to the tolerogenic antigen.
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a granulomatous lung disease characterized by the accumulation of beryllium (Be)-specific CD4(+) T cells in bronchoalveolar lavage. These expanded CD4(+) T cells are composed of oligoclonal T cell subsets, suggesting their recruitment to the lung in response to conventional Ag. In the current study, we noted that all bronchoalveolar lavage-derived T cell lines from HLA-DP2-expressing CBD patients contained an expansion of Be-responsive V?5.1(+) CD4(+) T cells. Using Be-loaded HLA-DP2-peptide tetramers, the majority of tetramer-binding T cells also expressed V?5.1 with a highly conserved CDR3? motif. Interestingly, Be-specific, V?5.1-expressing CD4(+) T cells displayed differential HLA-DP2-peptide tetramer staining intensity, and sequence analysis of the distinct tetramer-binding subsets showed that the two populations differed by a single conserved amino acid in the CDR3? motif. TCR V?-chain analysis of purified V?5.1(+) CD4(+) T cells based on differential tetramer-binding intensity showed differing TCR V?-chain pairing requirements, with the high-affinity population having promiscuous V?-chain pairing and the low-affinity subset requiring restricted V?-chain usage. Importantly, disease severity, as measured by loss of lung function, was inversely correlated with the frequency of tetramer-binding CD4(+) T cells in the lung. Our findings suggest the presence of a dominant Be-specific, V?5.1-expressing public T cell repertoire in the lungs of HLA-DP2-expressing CBD patients using promiscuous V?-chain pairing to recognize an identical HLA-DP2-peptide/Be complex. Importantly, the inverse relationship between expansion of CD4(+) T cells expressing these public TCRs and disease severity suggests a pathogenic role for these T cells in CBD.
The primary autoantigen triggering spontaneous type 1 diabetes mellitus in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice is insulin. The major T-cell insulin epitope lies within the amino acid 9-23 peptide of the ?-chain (B:9-23). This peptide can bind within the peptide binding groove of the NOD MHC class II molecule (MHCII), IA(g7), in multiple positions or "registers." However, the majority of pathogenic CD4 T cells recognize this complex only when the insulin peptide is bound in register 3 (R3). We hypothesized that antibodies reacting specifically with R3 insulin-IA(g7) complexes would inhibit autoimmune diabetes specifically without interfering with recognition of other IA(g7)-presented antigens. To test this hypothesis, we generated a monoclonal antibody (mAb287), which selectively binds to B:9-23 and related variants when presented by IA(g7) in R3, but not other registers. The monoclonal antibody blocks binding of IA(g7)-B:10-23 R3 tetramers to cognate T cells and inhibits T-cell responses to soluble B:9-23 peptides and NOD islets. However, mAb287 has no effect on recognition of other peptides bound to IA(g7) or other MHCII molecules. Intervention with mAb287, but not irrelevant isotype matched antibody, at either early or late stages of disease development, significantly delayed diabetes onset by inhibiting infiltration by not only insulin-specific CD4 T cells, but also by CD4 and CD8 T cells of other specificities. We propose that peptide-MHC-specific monoclonal antibodies can modulate autoimmune disease without the pleiotropic effects of nonselective reagents and, thus, could be applicable to the treatment of multiple T-cell mediated autoimmune disorders.
T-cell-mediated hypersensitivity to metal cations is common in humans. How the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) recognizes these cations bound to a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) protein and self-peptide is unknown. Individuals carrying the MHCII allele, HLA-DP2, are at risk for chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a debilitating inflammatory lung condition caused by the reaction of CD4 T cells to inhaled beryllium. Here, we show that the T cell ligand is created when a Be(2+) cation becomes buried in an HLA-DP2/peptide complex, where it is coordinated by both MHC and peptide acidic amino acids. Surprisingly, the TCR does not interact with the Be(2+) itself, but rather with surface changes induced by the firmly bound Be(2+) and an accompanying Na(+) cation. Thus, CBD, by creating a new antigen by indirectly modifying the structure of preexisting self MHC-peptide complex, lies on the border between allergic hypersensitivity and autoimmunity.
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a granulomatous disorder characterized by an influx of beryllium (Be)-specific CD4? T cells into the lung. The vast majority of these T cells recognize Be in an HLA-DP–restricted manner, and peptide is required for T cell recognition. However, the peptides that stimulate Be-specific T cells are unknown. Using positional scanning libraries and fibroblasts expressing HLA-DP2, the most prevalent HLA-DP molecule linked to disease, we identified mimotopes and endogenous self-peptides that bind to MHCII and Be, forming a complex recognized by pathogenic CD4? T cells in CBD. These peptides possess aspartic and glutamic acid residues at p4 and p7, respectively, that surround the putative Be-binding site and cooperate with HLA-DP2 in Be coordination. Endogenous plexin A peptides and proteins, which share the core motif and are expressed in lung, also stimulate these TCRs. Be-loaded HLA-DP2–mimotope and HLA-DP2–plexin A4 tetramers detected high frequencies of CD4? T cells specific for these ligands in all HLADP2+ CBD patients tested. Thus, our findings identify the first ligand for a CD4? T cell involved in metal-induced hypersensitivity and suggest a unique role of these peptides in metal ion coordination and the generation of a common antigen specificity in CBD.
Mucosal-associated invariant T cells are a unique population of T cells that express a semi-invariant ?? TCR and are restricted by the MHC class I-related molecule MR1. MAIT cells recognize uncharacterized ligand(s) presented by MR1 through the cognate interaction between their TCR and MR1. To understand how the MAIT TCR recognizes MR1 at the surface of APCs cultured both with and without bacteria, we undertook extensive mutational analysis of both the MAIT TCR and MR1 molecule. We found differential contribution of particular amino acids to the MAIT TCR-MR1 interaction based upon the presence of bacteria, supporting the hypothesis that the structure of the MR1 molecules with the microbial-derived ligand(s) differs from the one with the endogenous ligand(s). Furthermore, we demonstrate that microbial-derived ligand(s) is resistant to proteinase K digestion and does not extract with common lipids, suggesting an unexpected class of antigen(s) might be recognized by this unique lymphocyte population.
In the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of type 1 diabetes (T1D), an insulin peptide (B:9-23) is a major target for pathogenic CD4(+) T cells. However, there is no consensus on the relative importance of the various positions or "registers" this peptide can take when bound in the groove of the NOD MHCII molecule, IA(g7). This has hindered structural studies and the tracking of the relevant T cells in vivo with fluorescent peptide-MHCII tetramers. Using mutated B:9-23 peptides and methods for trapping the peptide in particular registers, we show that most, if not all, NOD CD4(+) T cells react to B:9-23 bound in low-affinity register 3. However, these T cells can be divided into two types depending on whether their response is improved or inhibited by substituting a glycine for the B:21 glutamic acid at the p8 position of the peptide. On the basis of these findings, we constructed a set of fluorescent insulin-IA(g7) tetramers that bind to most insulin-specific T-cell clones tested. A mixture of these tetramers detected a high frequency of B:9-23-reactive CD4(+) T cells in the pancreases of prediabetic NOD mice. Our data are consistent with the idea that, within the pancreas, unique processing of insulin generates truncated peptides that lack or contain the B:21 glutamic acid. In the thymus, the absence of this type of processing combined with the low affinity of B:9-23 binding to IA(g7) in register 3 may explain the escape of insulin-specific CD4(+) T cells from the mechanisms that usually eliminate self-reactive T cells.
?? T cell receptors (TCRs) bind specifically to foreign antigens presented by major histocompatibility complex proteins (MHC) or MHC-like molecules. Accumulating evidence indicates that the germline-encoded TCR segments have features that promote binding to MHC and MHC-like molecules, suggesting coevolution between TCR and MHC molecules. Here, we assess directly the evolutionary conservation of ?? TCR specificity for MHC. Sequence comparisons showed that some V?s from distantly related jawed vertebrates share amino acids in their complementarity determining region 2 (CDR2). Chimeric TCRs containing amphibian, bony fish, or cartilaginous fish V?s can recognize antigens presented by mouse MHC class II and CD1d (an MHC-like protein), and this recognition is dependent upon the shared CDR2 amino acids. These results indicate that features of the TCR that control specificity for MHC and MHC-like molecules were selected early in evolution and maintained between species that last shared a common ancestor more than 400 million years ago.
Major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) and MHCII proteins differ in structure and sequence. To understand how T cell receptors (TCRs) can use the same set of variable regions to bind both proteins, we have presented a comparison of a single TCR bound to both MHCI and MHCII ligands. The TCR adopts similar orientations on both ligands with TCR amino acids thought to be evolutionarily conserved for MHC interaction occupying similar positions on the MHCI and MHCII helices. However, the TCR antigen-binding loops use different conformations when interacting with each ligand. Most importantly, we observed alternate TCR core conformations. When bound to MHCI, but not MHCII, V? disengages from the J? ? strand, switching V?s position relative to V?. In several other structures, either V? or V? undergoes this same modification. Thus, both TCR V-domains can switch among alternate conformations, perhaps extending their ability to react with different MHC-peptide ligands.
CD4 T cell help for B cells is critical for effective Ab responses. Although many of the molecules involved in helper functions of naive CD4 T cells have been characterized, much less is known about the helper capabilities of memory CD4 T cells, an important consideration for the design of vaccines that aim to prime protective memory CD4 T cells. In this study, we demonstrate that memory CD4 T cells enable B cells to expand more rapidly and class switch earlier than do primary responding CD4 T cells. This accelerated response does not require large numbers of memory cells, and similar numbers of primary responding cells provide less effective help than do memory cells. However, only memory CD4 T cells that express the B cell follicle homing molecule, CXCR5, are able to accelerate the response, suggesting that the rapidity of the Ab response depends on the ability of CD4 memory T cells to migrate quickly toward B cells.
A peptide derived from the insulin B chain contains a major epitope for diabetogenic CD4(+) T cells in the NOD mouse model of type 1 diabetes (T1D). This peptide can fill the binding groove of the NOD MHCII molecule, IA(g7), in a number of ways or "registers." We show here that a diverse set of NOD anti-insulin T cells all recognize this peptide bound in the same register. Surprisingly, this register results in the poorest binding of peptide to IA(g7). The poor binding is due to an incompatibility between the p9 amino acid of the peptide and the unique IA(g7) p9 pocket polymorphisms that are strongly associated with susceptibility to T1D. Our findings suggest that the association of autoimmunity with particular MHCII alleles may be do to poorer, rather than more favorable, binding of the critical self-epitopes, allowing T-cell escape from thymic deletion.
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a fibrotic lung disorder caused by beryllium (Be) exposure and is characterized by granulomatous inflammation and the accumulation of Be-responsive CD4(+) T cells in the lung. Genetic susceptibility to CBD has been associated with certain alleles of the MHCII molecule HLA-DP, especially HLA-DPB1*0201 and other alleles that contain a glutamic acid residue at position 69 of the beta-chain (betaGlu69). The HLA-DP alleles that can present Be to T cells match those implicated in the genetic susceptibility, suggesting that the HLA contribution to disease is based on the ability of those molecules to bind and present Be to T cells. The structure of HLA-DP2 and its interaction with Be are unknown. Here, we present the HLA-DP2 structure with its antigen-binding groove occupied by a self-peptide derived from the HLA-DR alpha-chain. The most striking feature of the structure is an unusual solvent exposed acidic pocket formed between the peptide backbone and the HLA-DP2 beta-chain alpha-helix and containing three glutamic acids from the beta-chain, including betaGlu69. In the crystal packing, this pocket has been filled with the guanidinium group of an arginine from a neighboring molecule. This positively charged moiety forms an extensive H-bond/salt bridge network with the three glutamic acids, offering a plausible model for how Be-containing complexes might occupy this site. This idea is strengthened by the demonstration that mutation of any of the three glutamic acids in this pocket results in loss of the ability of DP2 to present Be to T cells.
Autoreactive CD4(+) T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases, but the antigens that stimulate their responses have been difficult to identify and in most cases are not well defined. In the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of type 1 diabetes, we have identified the peptide WE14 from chromogranin A (ChgA) as the antigen for highly diabetogenic CD4(+) T cell clones. Peptide truncation and extension analysis shows that WE14 bound to the NOD mouse major histocompatibility complex class II molecule I-A(g7) in an atypical manner, occupying only the carboxy-terminal half of the I-A(g7) peptide-binding groove. This finding extends the list of T cell antigens in type 1 diabetes and supports the idea that autoreactive T cells respond to unusually presented self peptides.
We have hypothesized that in the prenegative selection TCR repertoire, many somatically generated complementary-determining region (CDR) 3 loops combine with evolutionarily selected germline Valpha/Vbeta CDR1/CDR2 loops to create highly MHC/peptide cross-reactive T cells that are subsequently deleted by negative selection. Here, we present a mutational analysis of the Vbeta CDR3 of such a cross-reactive T-cell receptor (TCR), YAe62. Most YAe62 TCRs with the mutant CDR3s became less MHC promiscuous. However, others with CDR3s unrelated in sequence to the original recognized even more MHC alleles than the original TCR. Most importantly, this recognition was still dependent on the conserved CDR1/CDR2 residues. These results bolster the idea that germline TCR V elements are inherently reactive to MHC but that this reactivity is fine-tuned by the somatically generated CDR3 loops.
T cell-mediated allergy to Ni(++) is one of the most common forms of allergic contact dermatitis, but how the T-cell receptor (TCR) recognizes Ni(++) is unknown. We studied a TCR from an allergic patient that recognizes Ni(++) bound to the MHCII molecule DR52c containing an unknown self-peptide. We identified mimotope peptides that can replace both the self-peptide and Ni(++) in this ligand. They share a p7 lysine whose ?NH(2) group is surface-exposed when bound to DR52c. Whereas the TCR uses germ-line complementary-determining region (CDR)1/2 amino acids to dock in the conventional diagonal mode on the mimotope-DR52c complex, the interface is dominated by the TCR V? CDR3 interaction with the p7 lysine. Mutations in the TCR CDR loops have similar effects on the T-cell response to either the mimotope or Ni(++) ligand. We suggest that the mimotope p7 lysine mimics Ni(++) in the natural TCR ligand and that MHCII ?-chain flexibility in the area around the peptide p7 position forms a common site for cation binding in metal allergies.
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