Concerns that variola viruses might be used as bioweapons have renewed the interest in developing new and safer smallpox vaccines. Variola virus genomes are now widely available, allowing computational characterization of the entire T-cell epitome and the use of such information to develop safe and yet effective vaccines. To this end, we identified 124 proteins shared between various species of pathogenic orthopoxviruses including variola minor and major, monkeypox, cowpox, and vaccinia viruses, and we targeted them for T-cell epitope prediction. We recognized 8,106, and 8,483 unique class I and class II MHC-restricted T-cell epitopes that are shared by all mentioned orthopoxviruses. Subsequently, we developed an immunological resource, EPIPOX, upon the predicted T-cell epitome. EPIPOX is freely available online and it has been designed to facilitate reverse vaccinology. Thus, EPIPOX includes key epitope-focused protein annotations: time point expression, presence of leader and transmembrane signals, and known location on outer membrane structures of the infective viruses. These features can be used to select specific T-cell epitopes suitable for experimental validation restricted by single MHC alleles, as combinations thereof, or by MHC supertypes
Allergen specific immunotherapy (ASIT) and environmental control are the only etiologic treatments of allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, asthma and atopic dermatitis. The clinical benefit of ASIT David El-Qutob relies on the selection of the patients and the identification and administration of the allergen, or allergens. Different routes of administration have been investigated, including subcutaneous, intradermal, epicutaneous, sublingual, inhaled, or intra-lymphatic. While subcutaneous and sublingual allergen specific immunotherapy may require from 3 to 5 years of treatment, clinical efficacy with intra-lymphatic treatment can be achieved after 3 injections. The most severe side effect of ASIT is anaphylaxis. Novel approaches are being investigated to reduce the allergenicity of immunotherapy vaccines, maintaining immunogenicity. Peptide immunotherapy has been directed mostly against auto-immune diseases, but the use of synthetic peptides for ASIT is a promising field in basic science, applied immunology and in clinical development. Short synthetic peptides bear allergen-specific CD4 T-cell epitopes which induce tolerance by stimulating regulatory (Treg) and Th1 cells. In the present patent review, we describe new trends in allergen immunotherapy using peptides, which, from a clinical point of view, are promising.
Judith Dalmau, Margalida Rotger, Itziar Erkizia, Andri Rauch, Pedro Reche, Maria Pino, Anna Esteve, Eduard Palou, Christian Brander, Roger Paredes, Pham Phunge, Bonaventura Clotet, Amalio Telenti, Javier Martinez-Picado, Julia G. Prado, the CoRP Study Group
The study of HIV-1 rapid progressors has been limited to specific case reports. Nevertheless, identification and characterization of the viral and host factors involved in rapid progression are crucial when attempting to uncover the correlates of rapid disease outcome. DESIGN: We carried out comparative functional analyses in rapid progressors (n = 46) and standard progressors (n = 46) early after HIV-1 seroconversion (â‰¤1 year). The viral traits tested were viral replicative capacity, co-receptor usage, and genomic variation. Host CD8(+) T-cell responses, humoral activity, and HLA immunogenetic markers were also determined. RESULTS: Our data demonstrate an unusual convergence of highly pathogenic HIV-1 strains in rapid progressors. Compared with standard progressors, rapid progressor viral strains show higher in-vitro replicative capacity (81.5 vs. 67.9%; P = 0.025) and greater X4/DM co-receptor usage (26.3 vs. 2.8%; P = 0.006) in early infection. Limited or absent functional HIV-1 CD8(+) T-cell responses and neutralizing activity were measured in rapid progressors. Moreover, the increase in common HLA allele-restricted CD8(+) T-cell escape mutations in rapid progressors acts as a signature of uncontrolled HIV-1 replication and early impairment of adaptive cellular responses. CONCLUSION: Our data support a dominant role for viral factors in rapid progressors. Robust HIV-1 replication and intrinsic viral properties limit host adaptive immune responses, thus driving rapid disease progression.
Tuberculosis remains a major global health problem worldwide, and hence there is a need for novel vaccines that better induce cellular-mediated immunity (CMI). In search of a better vaccine target, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube Test (QFT-GIT) and the interferon-Î³ ELISPOT assay (ELISPOT) were used to compare the magnitude of CMI in patients. Results of the ELISPOT assay led to the discovery of specific epitopes within the early secreted antigenic target 6 kDa (ESAT-6) and culture filtrate protein 10 kDa (CFP-10) proteins. Both peptides showed a strong association with several HLA class II DRB1 molecules in the Japanese population. Using ESAT-6-specific HLA class II tetramers, we determined that the expression of ESAT-6-specific CD4+ lymphocytes was significantly decreased in treated patients compared with active patients. In addition, programmed death-1 (PD-1)/killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG-1) double positive cells were found only in treated patients and not in those with active TB. These data could provide clues for the development of novel tuberculosis vaccines.
The mesoporous silicon microparticles (MSMPs) are excellent vehicles for releasing molecules inside the cell. The aim of this work was to use MSMPs to deliver viral specific MHC class I restricted epitopes into human antigen presenting cells (monocyte derived dendritic cells, MDDCs) to facilitate their capture, processing, and presentation to CD8+ (cytotoxic) T lymphocytes. We show for the first time that MSMPs vehiculation of antigenic peptides enhances their MHC class I presentation by human MDDCs to CD8 T lymphocytes.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is able to persist as a chronic infection, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is evidence that clearance of HCV is linked to strong responses by CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), suggesting that eliciting CTL responses against HCV through an epitope-based vaccine could prove an effective means of immunization. However, HCV genomic plasticity as well as the polymorphisms of HLA I molecules restricting CD8 T-cell responses challenges the selection of epitopes for a widely protective vaccine. Here, we devised an approach to overcome these limitations. From available databases, we first collected a set of 245 HCV-specific CD8 T-cell epitopes, all known to be targeted in the course of a natural infection in humans. After a sequence variability analysis, we next identified 17 highly invariant epitopes. Subsequently, we predicted the epitope HLA I binding profiles that determine their potential presentation and recognition. Finally, using the relevant HLA I-genetic frequencies, we identified various epitope subsets encompassing 6 conserved HCV-specific CTL epitopes each predicted to elicit an effective T-cell response in any individual regardless of their HLA I background. We implemented this epitope selection approach for free public use at the EPISOPT web server.
Phagocytosis mediated by the complement receptor CR3 (also known as integrin Î±MÃŸ2 or Mac-1) is regulated by the recruitment of talin to the cytoplasmic tail of the ÃŸ2 integrin subunit. Talin recruitment to this integrin is dependent on Rap1 activation. However, the mechanism by which Rap1 regulates this event and CR3-dependent phagocytosis remains largely unknown. In the present work, we examined the role of the Rap1 effector RIAM, a talin-binding protein, in the regulation of complement-mediatedphagocytosis. Using the human myeloid cell lines HL-60 and THP-1, we determined that knockdown of RIAM impaired Î±MÃŸ2 integrin affinity changes induced by stimuli fMLP and LPS. Phagocytosis of complement-opsonized RBC particles, but not of IgG-opsonized RBC particles, was impaired in RIAM knockdown cells. Rap1 activation via EPAC induced by 8-pCPT-2â€²-O-Me-cAMP resulted in an increase of complement-mediated phagocytosis that was abrogated by knockdown of RIAM in HL-60 and THP-1 cell lines and in macrophages derived from primary monocytes. Furthermore, recruitment of talin to ÃŸ2 integrin during complement-mediated phagocytosis was reduced in RIAM knockdown cells. These results indicate that RIAM is a critical component of the phagocytosis machinery downstream of Rap1 and mediates its function by recruiting talin to the phagocytic complement receptors.
Jordi M. Argilaguet, Eva Perez-MartÄ±n, Miquel NofrarÄ±as, Carmina Gallardo, Francesc Accensi, Anna Lacasta , Mercedes Mora, Maria Ballester, Ivan Galindo-Cardiel1, Sergio Lopez-Soria1, ÌJose M. Escribano, Pedro A. Reche, Fernando RodrÄ±guez
DNA Vaccination Partially Protects against African Swine Fever Virus Lethal Challenge in the Absence of Antibodies
PLoS ONE 7(9): e40942. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040942
The lack of available vaccines against African swine fever virus (ASFV) means that the evaluation of new immunization strategies is required. Here we show that fusion of the extracellular domain of the ASFV Hemagglutinin (sHA) to p54 and p30, two immunodominant structural viral antigens, exponentially improved both the humoral and the cellular responses induced in pigs after DNA immunization. However, immunization with the resulting plasmid (pCMV-sHAPQ) did not confer protection against lethal challenge with the virulent E75 ASFV-strain. Due to the fact that CD8+ T-cell responses are emerging as key components for ASFV protection, we designed a new plasmid construct, pCMV-UbsHAPQ, encoding the three viral determinants above mentioned (sHA, p54 and p30) fused to ubiquitin, aiming to improve Class I antigen presentation and to enhance the CTL responses induced. As expected, immunization with pCMV-UbsHAPQ induced specific T-cell responses in the absence of antibodies and, more important, protected a proportion of immunized-pigs from lethal challenge with ASFV. In contrast with control pigs, survivor animals showed a peak of CD8+ T-cells at day 3 post-infection, coinciding with the absence of viremia at this time point. Finally, an in silico prediction of CTL peptides has allowed the identification of two SLA I-restricted 9-mer peptides within the hemagglutinin of the virus, capable of in vitro stimulating the specific secretion of IFNc when using PBMCs from survivor pigs. Our results confirm the relevance of T-cell responses in protection against ASF and open new expectations for the future development of more efficient recombinant vaccines against this disease.
Distinguishing T cell epitope distribution patterns is relevant for epitope-vaccine design. To that end, we invest0069gated the distribution of known CD8 T cell epitopes from Hepatitis C Virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 and Influenza A Virus using x2 statistics. We found that epitopes are not distributed in the viral proteomes proportionally to the size of the source proteins. Specifically, capsid and matrix proteins pack significantly more epitopes than those expected by their size. Such non-homogeneous distribution cannot be accounted by underlying MHC I-peptide binding preferences nor it is related to sequence variability. Instead, we propose that it might be related to preferential protein translation/biosynthesis. Overall, these results support the prioritization of structural antigens for epitope identification and vaccine design.
Specific Human Leukocyte Antigen Class II (HLA II) molecules associated with pemphigus vulgaris (PV), mucous membraine pemphigoid (MMP), and mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) may react with multiple T cell epitopes within desmoglein 3 (Dsg 3), bullous pemphigoid antigen 2 (BPAG 2), and 70 kDa polypeptide small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNP70) in autoantibody production. We report a group of patients with simultaneous occurrences of PV with MCTD, and MMP with MCTD. In one patient group, we performed serological studies to show presence of antibodies to Dsg 3, Dsg 1, and snRNP70 simultaneously. In the second group, we performed serological studies to show presence of antibodies to BPAG 1, BPAG 2, b4 integrin, and snRNP70 simultaneously. In both groups, HLA II genes were analyzed and the observations were consistent with previously described associations with PV, MMP, and MCTD. It is possible that HLA- DQb1*0301 allele, present in 10 of 17 patients and DRb1*04 in some of the others, may have the ability to bind to several relevant T cell epitopes in the snRNP70 molecule. We have utilized a computer model to demonstrate that HLA II-restricted T cell epitopes present within the known autoantigens may be capable of eliciting an immune response. While other explanations and mechanisms exist, the authors suggest that epitope spreading may be one possible mechanism, amongst others, that may result in the simultaneous presence of two separate pathogenic autoantibodies.
Functional characterization of proteins belonging to the MHC I superfamily involves knowing their cognate ligands, which can be peptides, lipids or none. However, the experimental identification of these ligands is not an easy task and generally requires some a priori knowledge of their chemical nature (ligand-type specificity). Here, we trained k-nearest neighbor and support vector machine classifiers that predict the ligand-type specificity MHC I proteins with great accuracy. Moreover, we applied these classifiers to human and mouse MHC I proteins of uncharacterized ligands, obtaining some results that can be instrumental to unravel the function of these proteins.
Pemphigoid (Pg) is an autoimmune subepidermal blistering disease that affects the elderly population. The phenotype can be Bullous Pemphigoid (BP), which primarily involves the skin, or Mucous Membrane Pemphigoid (MMP), which primarily involves mucus membranes. Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid (OCP) and Oral Pemphigoid (OP) are subsets of MMP. The known antigens in BP are Bullous Pemphigoid Antigen 1 (BPAG1, also known as BP230), Bullous Pemphigoid Antigen 2 (BPAG2, also known as BP180), and subunits of human integrins Î±6 and Î²4. The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) allele HLA-DQÎ²1*0301 has been reported to be associated with enhanced susceptibility to all of these subsets. Sera of patients with the four subsets are characterized by the presence of anti-Basement Membrane Zone (anti-BMZ) antibodies. In this manuscript, we present a model in which relevant portions of the four different antigens involved in pemphigoid have potential sites that could be presented by an antigen presenting cell (APC) in conjunction with DQÎ²1*0301 to a T cell receptor to initiate the process that results in anti-BMZ antibody production. Thus, this model provides a hypothetical computer-based mechanism to explain how a single HLA allele can be associated with the production of antibodies to four different antigens that result in four different subsets of a disease with four different clinical profiles and prognoses.
Aim: This study was designed to examine the immunogenetic basis for shared autoimmunity, resulting in autoantigen presentation that leads to the production of two or more disease-specific autoantibodies. Methods: A bioinformatics approach based on peptide binding predictions to disease-associated HLA determinants has been developed and tested here using 11 disease associations between autoimmune systemic and mucocutaneous blistering disorders. Various HLAs associated with antigens within a given â€œdisease modelâ€ (set of HLA class II and protein sequences known to be associated with a specific autoimmune disease) were tested and ranked against the antigenic proteins, first with proteins they are known to associate with and then with proteins known to be implicated in a second disease model. In every case binding predictions were compared for different proteins binding to the same HLA. Subsequently, disease-related autoantigens have been tested for their binding affinity against each disease-specific HLA class II protein. Results: For a single HLA haplotype, several binders have been generated from a related autoantigen with the variable binding score. In most cases, the binding score corresponding to the interactions between the autoantigen-derived epitope and the HLA associated with one disease was similar or lower than the interactions between the epitope from proteins associated with the second disease and the same HLA. Notably, there was no compelling promiscuity in peptide binding to each of the HLA molecules, in spite of the promiscuous nature of HLA class II binding. Conclusions: The data suggest that, in susceptible individuals, shared autoimmunity might be initiated by two types of HLA/peptide interaction; first between an autoantigen-derived epitope and its disease-associated HLA molecules, and second, between a different peptide of the same autoantigen and HLA proteins specific for the second disease.
Birds are considered dinosaurs that passed the 65 million years ago bottleneck. Songbirds (Passeriformes) include about half extant bird species (about 5000) and are generally the most air-thriving bird species, concordantly with their small size. Mayor Histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules stimulate immune responses against microbes and its class I molecules have seven conserved residues in all vertebrates from jawed-fishes, 300 million years ago, to humans, including chickens. All wild songbird species tested by us (n=18) and others (n= 2) differ in Î±1 domain residue 10 and Î±2 residue 96 from all other vertebrates. Amplification, cloning and sequencing were performed by standard methods. Sequences alignment were done by using PAUP and MEGA programs software. Crystallographic studies were performed by using mammal and bird MHC molecules from MPID database and other sources and showed that these changes did not significantly vary the MHC class I molecule stability in songbirds. Further Î±1 and Î±2 domain comparisons by simple Composition Distances and Bayesian Inference showed that songbirds overall MHC class I molecules are phylogenetically more separated from mammal than other birds molecules. In addition MHC class I introns from Passeriformes (songbirds) were found to be longer than humans, chicken introns being the shortest ones. These small mainly air-borne dinosaurs (Passeriformes) have undergone a different evolutive pathway, regarding to MHC, than all other tested vertebrates and more terrestrial birds. This may have been originated by an altogether different dinosaurs linage origin or to adaptation to more aerial than terrestrial environment or other unknown cause. In any case, the specific changes observed in this work for class I molecules in songbirds have reached a entropic, stable solution similar to that reached by other vertebrates.
BACKGROUND: Proteasomes play a central role in the major histocompatibility class I (MHCI) antigen processing pathway. They conduct the proteolytic degradation of proteins in the cytosol, generating the C-terminus of CD8 T cell epitopes and MHCI-peptide ligands (P1 residue of cleavage site). There are two types of proteasomes, the constitutive form, expressed in most cell types, and the immunoproteasome, which is constitutively expressed in mature dendritic cells. Protective CD8 T cell epitopes are likely generated by the immunoproteasome and the constitutive proteasome, and here we have modeled and analyzed the cleavage by these two proteases. RESULTS: We have modeled the immunoproteasome and proteasome cleavage sites upon two non-overlapping sets of peptides consisting of 553 CD8 T cell epitopes, naturally processed and restricted by human MHCI molecules, and 382 peptides eluted from human MHCI molecules, respectively, using N-grams. Cleavage models were generated considering different epitope and MHCI-eluted fragment lengths and the same number of C-terminal flanking residues. Models were evaluated in 5-fold cross-validation. Judging by the Mathew's Correlation Coefficient (MCC), optimal cleavage models for the proteasome (MCC = 0.43 Â± 0.07) and the immunoproteasome (MCC = 0.36 Â± 0.06) were obtained from 12-residue peptide fragments. Using an independent dataset consisting of 137 HIV1-specific CD8 T cell epitopes, the immunoproteasome and proteasome cleavage models achieved MCC values of 0.30 and 0.18, respectively, comparatively better than those achieved by related methods. Using ROC analyses, we have also shown that, combined with MHCI-peptide binding predictions, cleavage predictions by the immunoproteasome and proteasome models significantly increase the discovery rate of CD8 T cell epitopes restricted by different MHCI molecules, including A*0201, A*0301, A*2402, B*0702, B*2705. CONCLUSIONS: We have developed models that are specific to predict cleavage by the proteasome and the immunoproteasome. These models ought to be instrumental to identify protective CD8 T cell epitopes and are readily available for free public use at http://imed.med.ucm.es/Tools/PCPS/.
In this report, we present 15 patients with histological and immunopathologically proven pemphigus vulgaris (PV). After a mean of 80 months since the onset of disease, when evaluated serologically, they had antibodies typical of PV and pemphigoid (Pg). Similarly, 18 patients with bullous pemphigoid (BP) and mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) were diagnosed on the basis of histology and immunopathology. After a mean of 60 months since the onset of disease, when their sera were evaluated they were found to have Pg and PV autoantibodies. In both groups of patients the diseases were characterized by a chronic course, which included several relapses and recurrences and were non-responsive to conventional therapy. The major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II) genes were studied in both groups of patients and phenotypes associated typically with them were observed. Hence, in 33 patients, two different pathogenic autoantibodies were detected simultaneously. The authors provide a computer model to show that each MHC II gene has relevant epitopes that recognize the antigens associated with both diseases. Using the databases in these computer models, the authors present the hypothesis that these two autoantibodies are produced simultaneously due to the phenomena of epitope spreading.
In this chapter, we show an example of how an epitope database can be integrated to other database resources using the Distributed Annotation System (DAS) (Dowell et al. 2001). For that we describe the TEPIDAS server, a DAS Annotation Server of HLA I-restricted CD8 T-cell epitopes specific of human pathogenic organisms.
T cell immune responses are driven by the recognition of peptide antigens (T cell epitopes) that are bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. T cell epitope immunogenicity is thus contingent on several events, including appropriate and effective processing of the peptide from its protein source, stable peptide binding to the MHC molecule, and recognition of the MHC-bound peptide by the T cell receptor. Of these three hallmarks, MHC-peptide binding is the most selective event that determines T cell epitopes. Therefore, prediction of MHC-peptide binding constitutes the principal basis for anticipating potential T cell epitopes. The tremendous relevance of epitope identification in vaccine design and in the monitoring of T cell responses has spurred the development of many computational methods for predicting MHC-peptide binding that improve the efficiency and economics of T cell epitope identification. In this report, we will systematically examine the available methods for predicting MHC-peptide binding and discuss their most relevant advantages and drawbacks.
The transport of peptides to the endoplasmic reticulum by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) is a necessary step towards determining CD8 T cell epitopes. In this work, we have studied the predictive performance of support vector machine models trained on single residue positions and residue combinations drawn from a large dataset consisting of 613 nonamer peptides of known affinity to TAP. Predictive performance of these TAP affinity models was evaluated under 10-fold cross-validation experiments and measured using Pearsonâ€™s correlation coefficients (Rp). Our results show that every peptide position (P1â€“P9) contributes to TAP binding (minimum Rp of 0.26 6 0.11 was achieved by a model trained on the P6 residue), although the largest contributions to binding correspond to the C-terminal end (Rp 5 0.68 6 0.06) and the P1 (Rp 5 0.51 6 0.09) and P2 (0.57 6 0.08) residues of the peptide. Training the models on additional peptide residues generally improved their predictive performance and a maximum correlation (Rp 5 0.89 6 0.03) was achieved by a model trained on the full-length sequences or a residue selection consisting of the first 5 N- and last 3 C-terminal residues of the peptides included in the training set. A system for predicting the binding affinity of peptides to TAP using the methods described here is readily available for free public use at http://imed.med.ucm.es/Tools/tapreg/.
Immunoinformatics is an emerging new field that benefits from computational analyses and tools that facilitate the understanding of the immune system. A large number of immunoinformatics resources such as immune-related databases and analysis software are available through the World Wide Web for the benefit of the research community. However, immunoinformatics developments have sometimes remained isolated from mainstream bioinformatics. Therefore, there is clearly a need for integration, which will empower the exchange of data and annotations within the scientific community in a quick and efficient fashion. Here, we have chosen the Distributed Annotation System (DAS), for integrating in house annotations on experimental and predicted HLA I-restriction elements of CD8 T-cell epitopes with sequence and structural information.
We have developed PVS (Protein Variability Server), a web-based tool that uses several variability metrics to compute the absolute site variability in multiple protein-sequence alignments (MSAs). The variability is then assigned to a user-selected reference sequence consisting of either the first sequence in the alignment or a consensus sequence. Subsequently, PVS performs tasks that are relevant for structure-function studies, such as plotting and visualizing the variability in a relevant 3D-structure. Neatly, PVS also implements some other tasks that are thought to facilitate the design of epitope discovery-driven vaccines against pathogens where sequence variability largely contributes to immune evasion. Thus, PVS can return the conserved fragments in the MSA-as defined by a user-provided variability threshold-and locate them in a relevant 3D-structure. Furthermore, PVS can return a variability-masked sequence, which can be directly submitted to the RANKPEP server for the prediction of conserved T-cell epitopes. PVS is freely available at: http://imed.med.ucm.es/PVS/.
Prediction of peptide binding to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules is a basis for anticipating T-cell epitopes. Peptides that bind to a given MHC molecule are related by sequence similarity. Therefore, a position-specific scoring matrix (PSSM)---also known as profile--derived from a set of aligned peptides known to bind to a given MHC molecule can be used as a predictor of both peptide-MHC binding and T-cell epitopes. In this approach, the binding potential of any peptide sequence (query) to the MHC molecule is determined by its similarity to a set of known peptide-MHC binders and can be obtained by comparing the query to the PSSM. Following structural considerations of the peptide-MHC interaction, we will describe here how to derive alignments and PSSMs that are suitable for the prediction of peptide-MHC binding.
Identification of peptides that can bind to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules is important for anticipation of T-cell epitopes and for the design of epitope-based vaccines. Population coverage of epitope vaccines is, however, compromised by the extreme polymorphism of MHC molecules, which is in fact the basis for their differential peptide binding. Therefore, grouping of MHC molecules into supertypes according to peptide-binding specificity is relevant for optimizing the composition of epitope-based vaccines. Despite the fact that the peptide-binding specificity of MHC molecules is linked to their specific amino acid sequences, it is unclear how amino sequence differences correlate with peptide-binding specificities. In this chapter, we detail a method for defining MHC supertypes based on the analysis and subsequent clustering of their peptide-binding repertoires.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) protect against viruses including HIV-1. To avoid viral escape mutants that thwart immunity, we chose 25 CTL epitopes defined in the context of natural infection with functional and/or structural constraints that maintain sequence conservation. By combining HLA binding predictions with knowledge concerning HLA allele frequencies, a metric estimating population protection coverage (PPC) was computed and epitope pools assembled. Strikingly, only a minority of immunocompetent HIV-1 infected individuals responds to pools with PPC >95%. In contrast, virus-naive individuals uniformly expand IFNgamma producing cells and mount anti-HIV-1 cytolytic activity. This disparity suggests a vaccine design paradigm shift from infected to normal subjects.
Histones are DNA-binding proteins found in the chromatin of all eukaryotic cells. They are highly conserved and can be grouped into five major classes: H1/H5, H2A, H2B, H3, and H4. Two copies of H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 bind to about 160 base pairs of DNA forming the core of the nucleosome (the repeating structure of chromatin) and H1/H5 bind to its DNA linker sequence. Overall, histones have a high arginine/lysine content that is optimal for interaction with DNA. This sequence bias can make the classification of histones difficult using standard sequence similarity approaches. Therefore, in this paper, we applied support vector machine (SVM) to recognize and classify histones on the basis of their amino acid and dipeptide composition. On evaluation through a five-fold cross-validation, the SVM-based method was able to distinguish histones from nonhistones (nuclear proteins) with an accuracy around 98%. Similarly, we obtained an overall >95% accuracy in discriminating the five classes of histones through the application of 1-versus-rest (1-v-r) SVM. Finally, we have applied this SVM-based method to the detection of histones from whole proteomes and found a comparable sensitivity to that accomplished by hidden Markov motifs (HMM) profiles.
Manoj Bhasin, Hong Zhang, Ellis L. Reinherz and Pedro A. Reche.
Prediction of methylated CpGs in DNA sequences using a support vector machine.
FEBS Lett. 2005 Jul 25; [Epub ahead of print]Abstract
DNA methylation plays a key role in the regulation of gene expression. The most common type of DNA modification consists of the methylation of cytosine in the CpG dinucleotide. At the present time, there is no method available for the prediction of DNA methylation sites. Therefore, in this study we have developed a support vector machine (SVM)-based method for the prediction of cytosine methylation in CpG dinucleotides. Initially a SVM module was developed from human data for the prediction of human-specific methylation sites. This module achieved a MCC and AUC of 0.501 and 0.814, respectively, when evaluated using a 5-fold cross-validation. The performance of this SVM-based module was better than the classifiers built using alternative machine learning and statistical algorithms including artificial neural networks, Bayesian statistics, and decision trees. Additional SVM modules were also developed based on mammalian- and vertebrate-specific methylation patterns. The SVM module based on human methylation patterns was used for genome-wide analysis of methylation sites. This analysis demonstrated that the percentage of methylated CpGs is higher in UTRs as compared to exonic and intronic regions of human genes. This method is available on line for public use under the name of Methylator ati http://bio.dfci.harvard.edu/Methylator/.
Prediction of peptide binding to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules is a basis for anticipating T-cell epitopes, as well as epitope discovery-driven vaccine development. In the human, MHC molecules are known as human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) and are extremely polymorphic. HLA polymorphism is the basis of differential peptide binding, until now limiting the practical use of current epitope-prediction tools for vaccine development. Here, we describe a web server, PEPVAC (Promiscuous EPitope-based VACcine), optimized for the formulation of multi-epitope vaccines with broad population coverage. This optimization is accomplished through the prediction of peptides that bind to several HLA molecules with similar peptide-binding specificity (supertypes). Specifically, we offer the possibility of identifying promiscuous peptide binders to five distinct HLA class I supertypes (A2, A3, B7, A24 and B15). We estimated the phenotypic population frequency of these supertypes to be 95%, regardless of ethnicity. Targeting these supertypes for promiscuous peptide-binding predictions results in a limited number of potential epitopes without compromising the population coverage required for practical vaccine design considerations. PEPVAC can also identify conserved MHC ligands, as well as those with a C-terminus resulting from proteasomal cleavage. The combination of these features with the prediction of promiscuous HLA class I ligands further limits the number of potential epitopes. The PEPVAC server is hosted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at the site http://immunax.dfci.harvard.edu/PEPVAC/.
The EGF-like domain of smallpox growth factor (SPGF) targets human ErbB-1, inducing tyrosine phosphorylation of certain host cellular
substrates via activation of the receptor's kinase domain and thereby facilitating viral replication. Given these findings, low
molecular weight organic inhibitors of ErbB-1 kinases might function as antiviral agents against smallpox. Here we show that CI-1033
and related 4-anilinoquinazolines inhibit SPGF-induced human cellular DNA synthesis, protein tyrosine kinase activation, and c-Cbl
association with ErbB-1 and resultant internalization. Infection of monkey kidney BSC-40 and VERO-E6 cells in vitro by variola strain
Solaimen is blocked by CI-1033, primarily at the level of secondary viral spreading. In an in vivo lethal vaccinia virus pneumonia
model, CI-1033 alone promotes survival of animals, augments systemic T cell immunity and, in conjunction with a single dose of
anti-L1R intracellular mature virus particle-specific mAb, fosters virtually complete viral clearance of the lungs of infected mice
by the eighth day after infection. Collectively, these findings show that chemical inhibitors of host-signaling pathways exploited by
viral pathogens may represent potent antiviral therapies.
EPIMHC is a relational database of MHC-binding peptides and T cell epitopes that are observed in
real proteins. Currently the database contains 4867 distinct peptide sequences from various sources, including 84 tumor
associated antigens. The EPIMHC database is accessible through a web server that has been designed to facilitate research in
computational vaccinology. Importantly, peptides resulting from a query can be selected to derive specific motif-matrices.
Subsequently, these motif-matrices can be used in combination with a dynamic algorithm for predicting MHC-binding peptides from
user-provided protein queries. AVAILABILITY: The EPIMHC database server is hosted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at the site
Definition of MHC supertypes through clustering of MHC peptide binding repertoires
Artificial Immune Systems. Procedings of Third international conference, ICARIS. 2004. LNCS 3239, pp.
189-196.Eds. G. Nicosia, V. Cutello, P. J. Bentley and T. Timmis. Springer-Verlag Berling Heidelberg. Abstract
MHC molecules, also known in the human as human leukocyte antigens (HLA), display peptides on antigen presenting cell surfaces for subsequent T cell recognition. Identification of these antigenic peptides is especially important for developing peptide-based vaccines. Consequently experimental and computational approaches have been developed for their identification. A major impediment to such an approach is the extreme polymorphism of HLA, which is in fact the basis for differential peptide binding. This problem can be mitigated by the observation that despite such polymorphisms, HLA molecules bind overlapping set of peptides, and therefore, may be grouped accordingly into supertypes. Here we describe a method of grouping HLA alleles into supertypes based on analysis and subsequent clustering of their peptide binding repertoires. Combining this method with the known allele and haplotype gene frequencies of HLA I molecules for five major American ethnic groups (Black, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian), it is now feasible to identify supertypic combinations for prediction of antigenic peptide, offering the potential to generate peptide-vaccines with a population coverage >95%, regardless of ethnicity. One combination including five distinct supertypes is available online at our PEPVAC web server (http://immunax.dfci.harvard.edu/PEPVAC/). Promiscuous peptides predicted to bind to these five supertypes represent around 5% of all possible peptide binders from a given genome.
We introduced previously an on-line resource, RANKPEP that uses position specific scoring matrices (PSSMs) or profiles for the prediction of peptide-MHC class I (MHCI) binding as a basis for CD8 T-cell epitope identification. Here, using PSSMs that are structurally consistent with the binding mode of MHC class II (MHCII) ligands, we have extended RANKPEP to prediction of peptide-MHCII binding and anticipation of CD4 T-cell epitopes. Currently, 88 and 50 different MHCI and MHCII molecules, respectively, can be targeted for peptide binding predictions in RANKPEP. Because appropriate processing of antigenic peptides must occur prior to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) binding, cleavage site prediction methods are important adjuncts for T-cell epitope discovery. Given that the C-terminus of most MHCI-restricted epitopes results from proteasomal cleavage, we have modeled the cleavage site from known MHCI-restricted epitopes using statistical language models. The RANKPEP server now determines whether the C-terminus of any predicted MHCI ligand may result from such proteasomal cleavage. Also implemented is a variability masking function. This feature focuses prediction on conserved rather than highly variable protein segments encoded by infectious genomes, thereby offering identification of invariant T-cell epitopes to thwart mutation as an immune evasion mechanism.
During development, thymocytes carrying TCRs mediating low-affinity interactions with MHC-bound self-peptides are positively selected for export into the mature peripheral T lymphocyte pool. Thus, exogenous administration of certain altered peptide ligands (APL) with reduced TCR affinity relative to cognate Ags may provide a tool to elicit maturation of desired TCR specificities. To test this "thymic vaccination" concept, we designed APL of the viral CTL epitopes gp33-41 and vesicular stomatitis virus nucleoprotein octapeptide N52-59 relevant for the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-specific P14- and vesicular stomatitis virus-specific N15-TCRs, respectively, and examined their effects on thymocytes in vivo using irradiation chimeras. Injection of APL into irradiated congenic (Ly-5.1) mice, reconstituted with T cell progenitors from the bone marrow of P14 RAG2(-/-) (Ly-5.2) or N15 RAG2(-/-) (Ly-5.2) transgenic mice, resulted in positive selection of T cells expressing the relevant specificity. Moreover, the variants led to export of virus-specific T cells to lymph nodes, but without inducing T cell proliferation. These findings show that the mature T cell repertoire can be altered by in vivo peptide administration through manipulation of thymic selection.
Variola, the causative agent of smallpox, is a highly infectious double-stranded DNA virus of the orthopox genus that replicates within the cytoplasm of infected cells. For unknown reasons prominent skin manifestations, including "pox," mark the course of this systemic human disease. Here we characterized smallpox growth factor (SPGF), a protein containing an epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domain that is conserved among orthopox viral genomes, and investigated its possible mechanistic link. We show that after recombinant expression, refolding, and purification, the EGF domain of SPGF binds exclusively to the broadly expressed cellular receptor, erb-B1 (EGF receptor), with subnanomolar affinity, stimulating the growth of primary human keratinocytes and fibroblasts. High affinity monoclonal antibodies specific for SPGF reveal in vivo immunoprotection in a murine vaccinia pneumonia model by a mechanism distinct from viral neutralization. These findings suggest that blockade of pathogenic factor actions, in general, may be advantageous to the infected host.
Zhong W, Reche PA, Lai CC, Reinhold B, Reinherz EL.
Genome-wide characterization of a viral cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitope repertoire.
J. Biol Chem. 2003 Nov 14; 278(46): 45135-44. Epub 2003 Sep 05. Abstract
A genome-wide search using major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I binding and proteosome cleavage site algorithms identified 101 influenza A PR8 virus-derived peptides as potential epitopes for CD8+ T cell recognition in the H-2b mouse. Cytokine-based flow cytometry, ELISPOT, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte assays reveal that 16 are recognized by CD8+ T cells recovered directly ex vivo from infected animals, accounting for greater than 70% of CD8+ T cells recruited to lung after primary infection. Only six of the 22 highest affinity MHC class I binding peptides comprise cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes. The remaining non-immunogenic peptides have equivalent MHC affinity and MHC-peptide complex half-lives, eliciting T cell responses when given in adjuvant and with T cell receptor-ligand avidity comparable with their immunogenic counterparts. As revealed by a novel high sensitivity nanospray tandem mass spectrometry methodology, failure to process those predicted epitopes may contribute significantly to the absent response. These results have important implications for rationale design of CD8+ T cell vaccines.
Major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) and class II (MHCII) molecules display peptides on antigen-presenting cell surfaces for subsequent T-cell recognition. Within the human population, allelic variation among the classical MHCI and II gene products is the basis for differential peptide binding, thymic repertoire bias and allograft rejection. While available 3D structural analysis suggests that polymorphisms are found primarily within the peptide-binding site, a broader informatic approach pinpointing functional polymorphisms relevant for immune recognition is currently lacking. To this end, we have now analyzed known human class I (774) and class II (485) alleles at each amino acid position using a variability metric (V). Polymorphisms (V>1) have been identified in residues that contact the peptide and/or T-cell receptor (TCR). Using sequence logos to investigate TCR contact sites on HLA molecules, we have identified conserved MHCI residues distinct from those of conserved MHCII residues. In addition, specific class II (HLA-DP, -DQ, -DR) and class I (HLA-A, -B, -C) contacts for TCR binding are revealed. We discuss these findings in the context of TCR restriction and alloreactivity.
Negative selection eliminates thymocytes bearing autoreactive T cell receptors (TCR) via an apoptotic mechanism. We have cloned an inhibitor of NF-kappa B, I kappa BNS, which is rapidly expressed upon TCR-triggered but not dexamethasone- or gamma irradiation-stimulated thymocyte death. The predicted protein contains seven ankyrin repeats and is homologous to I kappa B family members. In class I and class II MHC-restricted TCR transgenic mice, transcription of I kappa BNS is stimulated by peptides that trigger negative selection but not by those inducing positive selection (i.e., survival) or nonselecting peptides. I kappa BNS blocks transcription from NF-kappa B reporters, alters NF-kappa B electrophoretic mobility shifts, and interacts with NF-kappa B proteins in thymic nuclear lysates following TCR stimulation. Retroviral transduction of I kappa BNS in fetal thymic organ culture enhances TCR-triggered cell death consistent with its function in selection.
The functional consequences of glycan structural changes associated with cellular differentiation are ill defined. Herein, we investigate the role of glycan adducts to the O-glycosylated polypeptide stalk tethering the CD8alphabeta coreceptor to the thymocyte surface. We show that immature CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes bind MHCI tetramers more avidly than mature CD8 single-positive thymocytes, and that this differential binding is governed by developmentally programmed O-glycan modification controlled by the ST3Gal-I sialyltransferase. ST3Gal-I induction and attendant core 1 sialic acid addition to CD8beta on mature thymocytes decreases CD8alphabeta-MHCI avidity by altering CD8alphabeta domain-domain association and/or orientation. Hence, glycans on the CD8beta stalk appear to modulate the ability of the distal binding surface of the dimeric CD8 globular head domains to clamp MHCI.