Previous studies in type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the nonobese diabetic mouse demonstrated that a crucial insulin epitope (B:9-23) is presented to diabetogenic CD4 T cells by IA(g7) in a weakly bound register. The importance of antigenic peptides with low-affinity HLA binding in human autoimmune disease remains less clear. The objective of this study was to investigate T-cell responses to a low-affinity self-epitope in subjects with T1D. HLA-DQ8 tetramers loaded with a modified insulin peptide designed to improve binding the low-affinity register were used to visualize T-cell responses following in vitro stimulation. Positive responses were only detectable in T1D patients. Because the immunogenic register of B:9-23 presented by DQ8 has not been conclusively demonstrated, T-cell assays using substituted peptides and DQ8 constructs engineered to express and present B:9-23 in fixed binding registers were used to determine the immunogenic register of this peptide. Tetramer-positive T-cell clones isolated from T1D subjects that responded to stimulation by B:11-23 peptide and denatured insulin protein were conclusively shown to recognize B:11-23 bound to HLA-DQ8 in the low-affinity register 3. These T cells also responded to homologous peptides derived from microbial antigens, suggesting that their initial priming could occur via molecular mimicry. These results are in accord with prior observations from the nonobese diabetic mouse model, suggesting a mechanism shared by mouse and man through which T cells that recognize a weakly bound peptide can circumvent tolerance mechanisms and play a role in the initiation of autoimmune diseases, such as T1D.
Susceptibility to type 1 diabetes (T1D) is strongly associated with MHC class II molecules, particularly HLA-DQ8 (DQ8: DQA1*03:01/DQB1*03:02). Monitoring T1D-specific T cell responses to DQ8-restricted epitopes may be key to understanding the immunopathology of the disease. In this study, we examined DQ8-restricted T cell responses to glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) using DQ8 tetramers. We demonstrated that GAD65121-140 and GAD65250-266 elicited responses from DQ8+ subjects. Circulating CD4+ T cells specific for these epitopes were detected significantly more often in T1D patients than in healthy individuals after in vitro expansion. T cell clones specific for GAD65121-140 and GAD65250-266 carried a Th1-dominant phenotype, with some of the GAD65121-140-specific T cell clones producing IL-17. GAD65250-266-specific CD4+ T cells could also be detected by direct ex vivo staining. Analysis of unmanipulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) revealed that GAD65250-266-specific T cells could be found in both healthy and diabetic individuals but the frequencies of specific T cells were higher in subjects with type 1 diabetes. Taken together, our results suggest a proinflammatory role for T cells specific for DQ8-restricted GAD65121-140 and GAD65250-266 epitopes and implicate their possible contribution to the progression of T1D.
Type 1 diabetes is associated with T-cell responses to ?-cell antigens such as GAD65. Single T-cell epitopes have been investigated for immune monitoring with some success, but multiple epitopes may be required to fully characterize responses in all subjects. We used a systematic approach to examine the diversity of the GAD65-specific T-cell repertoire in subjects with DRB1*04:01 haplotypes. Using class II tetramers, we observed responses to 15 GAD65 epitopes, including five novel epitopes. The majority were confirmed to be processed and presented. Upon stimulation with peptides, GAD-specific responses were equally broad in subjects with diabetes and healthy controls in the presence or absence of CD25(+) T cells, suggesting that a susceptible HLA is sufficient to generate a potentially autoreactive repertoire. Without depleting CD25(+) cells, GAD(113-132) and GAD(265-284) responses were significantly stronger in subjects with diabetes. Although nearly every individual responded to at least one GAD65 epitope, most were seen in less than half of the subjects tested, suggesting that multiple epitopes are recommended for immune monitoring.
Influenza A/California/4/2009 (H1N1/09) is a recently emerged influenza virus capable of causing serious illness or death in otherwise healthy individuals. Serious outcomes were most common in young adults and children, suggesting that pre-existing heterologous immunity may influence the severity of infection. Using tetramers, we identified CD4(+) T-cell epitopes within H1N1/09 hemagglutinin (HA) that share extensive homology with seasonal influenza and epitopes that are unique to H1N1/09 HA. Ex vivo tetramer staining revealed that T cells specific for conserved epitopes were detectable within the memory compartment, whereas T cells specific for unique epitopes were naive and infrequent prior to infection or vaccination. Following infection, the frequencies of T cells specific for unique epitopes were 11-fold higher, reaching levels comparable to those of T cells specific for immunodominant epitopes. In contrast, the frequencies of T cells specific for conserved epitopes were only 2- to 3-fold higher following infection. In general, H1HA-reactive T cells exhibited a memory phenotype, expressed CXCR3 and secreted IFN-?, indicating a predominantly Th1-polarized response. A similar Th1 response was seen in vaccinated subjects, but the expansion of T cells specific for HA epitopes was comparatively modest after vaccination. Our findings indicate that CD4(+) T cells recognize both strain-specific and conserved epitopes within the influenza HA protein and suggest that naive T cells specific for HA epitopes undergo significant expansion, whereas memory T cells specific for the conserved epitopes undergo more restrained expansion.
Antibody-based immunotherapy has been effectively used for tumor treatment. However, to date, only a few tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) or therapeutic targets have been identified. Identification of more immunogenic antigens is essential for improvements in multiple myeloma (MM) diagnosis and therapy. In this study, we synthesized a polyclonal antibody (PAb) by immunizing rabbits with whole human plasmacytoma ARH-77 cells and identified MM-associated antigens, including enlonase, adipophilin, and HSP90s, among others, via proteomic technologies. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay showed that 200 µg/mL PAb inhibits the proliferation of ARH-77 cells by over 50% within 48 h. Flow cytometric assay indicated that PAb treatment significantly increases the number of apoptotic cells compared with other treatments (52.1% vs. NS, 7.3% or control rabbit IgG, 9.9%). In vivo, PAb delayed tumor growth and prolonged the lifespan of mice. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assay showed that PAb also induces statistically significant changes in apoptosis compared with other treatments (P<0.05). We therefore conclude that PAb could be used for the effective screening and identification of TAA. PAb may have certain anti-tumor functions in vitro and in vivo. As such, its combination with proteomic technologies could be a promising approach for sieving TAA for the diagnosis and therapy of MM.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by infiltration of pathogenic immune cells in the CNS resulting in destruction of the myelin sheath and surrounding axons. We and others have previously measured the frequency of human myelin-reactive T cells in peripheral blood. Using T cell cloning techniques, a modest increase in the frequency of myelin-reactive T cells in patients as compared with control subjects was observed. In this study, we investigated whether myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-specific T cells could be detected and their frequency was measured using DRB1*0401/MOG(97-109(107E-S)) tetramers in MS subjects and healthy controls expressing HLA class II DRB1*0401. We defined the optimal culture conditions for expansion of MOG-reactive T cells upon MOG peptide stimulation of PMBCs. MOG(97-109)-reactive CD4(+) T cells, isolated with DRB1*0401/MOG(97-109) tetramers, and after a short-term culture of PMBCs with MOG(97-109) peptides, were detected more frequently from patients with MS as compared with healthy controls. T cell clones from single cell cloning of DRB1*0401/MOG(97-109(107E-S)) tetramer(+) cells confirmed that these T cell clones were responsive to both the native and the substituted MOG peptide. These data indicate that autoantigen-specific T cells can be detected and enumerated from the blood of subjects using class II tetramers, and the frequency of MOG(97-109)-reactive T cells is greater in patients with MS as compared with healthy controls.
Peptide:MHC cellular microarrays have been proposed to simultaneously characterize multiple Ag-specific populations of T cells. The practice of studying immune responses to complicated pathogens with this tool demands extensive knowledge of T cell epitopes and the availability of peptide:MHC complexes for array fabrication as well as a specialized data analysis approach for result interpretation.
Identification of dominant T cell epitopes within newly emerging and re-emerging infectious organisms is valuable in understanding pathogenic immune responses and potential vaccine designs. However, difficulties in obtaining samples from patients or convalescent subjects have hampered research in this direction. We demonstrated a strategy, tetramer-guided epitope mapping, that specific CD4+ T cell epitopes can be identified by using PBMC from subjects that have not been exposed to the infectious organism. Sixteen HLA-DR0401- and 14 HLA-DR0701-restricted epitopes within spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) were identified. Among these, spike protein residues 159-171, 166-178, 449-461 and 1083-1097 were identified to contain naturally processed immunodominant epitopes based on strong in vitro T cell responses of PBMC (as assayed by tetramer staining) to intact spike protein stimulation. These immunodominant epitopes were confirmed in vivo in HLA-DR0401 transgenic mice by immunizing with spike protein. Furthermore, the epitope-specific T cells from naive donors secreted IFN-gamma and IL-13 upon re-stimulation with corresponding tetramers. Our study demonstrates a strategy to determine potential immunodominant epitopes for emerging infectious pathogens prior to their epidemic circulation.
CD4+ T cells play a pivotal role in the viral immunity, and as such identification of unique strain-specific HLA class II restricted epitopes is essential for monitoring cellular strain-specific viral immunity. Using Tetramer-Guided Epitope Mapping technique, we identified HLA-DR0401 restricted HA epitopes that are strain-specific to H5N1 virion. Two immunodominant epitopes H5HA(441-460) and H5HA(57-76) were identified from in vitro stimulated human PBMC. Both epitopes elicit strong cellular immune responses when HLA-DR0401 transgenic mice are immunized with H5N1 subvirion indicating in vivo naturally processed immunodominant epitopes. The H5HA(57-76) epitope is unique for the H5N1 strain but conserved among all H5N1 clades recommended for vaccine development by World Health Organization. The unique H5HA(57-76) response was uncommon in unexposed individuals and only observed in the naïve T cell subset. Thus, H5N1 strain-specific H5HA(57-76) immunogenic epitope represents a unique marker for monitoring the efficacy of vaccination or as a candidate vaccine peptide.
Achondroplasia (ACH) and thanatophoric dysplasia (TD) are caused by gain-of-function mutations of fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) and they are the most common forms of dwarfism and lethal dwarfism, respectively. Currently, there are few effective treatments for ACH. For the neonatal lethality of TD patients, no practical effective therapies are available. We here showed that systemic intermittent PTH (1-34) injection can rescue the lethal phenotype of TD type II (TDII) mice and significantly alleviate the retarded skeleton development of ACH mice. PTH-treated ACH mice had longer naso-anal length than ACH control mice, and the bone lengths of humeri and tibiae were rescued to be comparable with those of wild-type control mice. Our study also found that the premature fusion of cranial synchondroses in ACH mice was partially corrected after the PTH (1-34) treatment, suggesting that the PTH treatment may rescue the progressive narrowing of neurocentral synchondroses that cannot be readily corrected by surgery. In addition, we found that the PTH treatment can improve the osteopenia and bone structure of ACH mice. The increased expression of PTHrP and down-regulated FGFR3 level may be responsible for the positive effects of PTH on bone phenotype of ACH and TDII mice.
The frequency of epitope-specific naive CD4(+) T cells in humans has not been extensively examined. In this study, a systematic approach was used to examine the frequency of CD4(+) T cells that recognize the protective Ag of Bacillus anthracis in both anthrax vaccine-adsorbed vaccinees and nonvaccinees with HLA-DRB1*01:01 haplotypes. Three epitopes were identified that had distinct degrees of immunodominance in subjects that had received the vaccine. Average naive precursor frequencies of T cells specific for these different epitopes in the human repertoire ranged from 0.2 to 10 per million naive CD4(+) T cells, which is comparable to precursor frequencies observed in the murine repertoire. Frequencies of protective Ag-specific T cells were two orders of magnitude higher in immunized subjects than in nonvaccinees. The frequencies of epitope-specific memory CD4(+) T cells in vaccinees were directly correlated with the frequencies of precursors in the naive repertoire. At the level of TCR usage, at least one preferred V? in the naive repertoire was present in the memory repertoire. These findings implicate naive frequencies as a crucial factor in shaping the epitope specificity of memory CD4(+) T cell responses.
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