Product(s) used in this publication: PepTrack™ Peptide Libraries
Most individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) generate a CD4(+) T-cell response that is dominated by a few epitopes. Immunodominance may be counterproductive because a broad CD4(+) T-cell response is associated with reduced viral load. Previous studies indicated that antigen three-dimensional structure controls antigen processing and presentation and therefore CD4(+) T-cell epitope dominance. Dominant epitopes occur adjacent to the V1-V2, V3, and V4 loops because proteolytic antigen processing in the loops promotes presentation of adjacent sequences. In this study, three gp120 (strain JR-FL) variants were constructed, in which deletions of single outer-domain disulfide bonds were expected to introduce local conformational flexibility and promote presentation of additional CD4(+) T-cell epitopes. Following mucosal immunization of C57BL/6 mice with wild-type or variant gp120 lacking the V3-flanking disulfide bond, the typical pattern of dominant epitopes was observed, suggesting that the disulfide bond posed no barrier to antigen presentation. In mice that lacked gamma interferon-inducible lysosomal thioreductase (GILT), proliferative responses to the typically dominant epitopes of gp120 were selectively depressed, and the dominance pattern was rearranged. Deletion of the V3-flanking disulfide bond or one of the V4-flanking disulfide bonds partially restored highly proliferative responses to the typically dominant epitopes. These results reveal an acute dependence of dominant CD4(+) T-cell responses on the native gp120 conformation.
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Antigen presentation; Antigen processing; Cellular immune response; Disulfide; Lymphocyte; Protein conformation; T-helper; protein Denaturation