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Mary J. Mattapallil, Phyllis B. Silver, Lizette M. Cortes, Anthony J. St. Leger, Yingyos Jittayasothorn, Jennifer L. Kielczewski, James J. Moon, Chi-Chao Chan, Rachel R. Caspi; Characterization of a New Epitope of IRBP That Induces Moderate to Severe Uveoretinitis in Mice With H-2b Haplotype. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(9):5439-5449. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-17280.
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Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) induced in mice using the retinal antigen interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP) is an animal model for posterior uveitis in humans. However, EAU induced by native IRBP protein or its widely used epitope amino acid residues 1 to 20 of human IRBP (hIRBP1-20) is inconsistent, often showing low scores and incidence. We found an urgent need to identify a better pathogenic epitope for the C57BL/6 strain.
Mice were immunized with uveitogenic peptides or with native bovine IRBP. Clinical and histological disease and associated immunological responses were evaluated. Truncated and substituted peptides, as well as bioinformatic analyses, were used to identify critical major histocompatibility complex (MHC)/T cell receptor (TCR) contact residues and the minimal core epitope.
The new uveitogenic epitope of IRBP, amino acid residues 651 to 670 of human IRBP (LAQGAYRTAVDLESLASQLT [hIRBP651-670]) is uveitogenic for mice of the H-2b haplotype and elicits EAU with a higher severity and incidence in C57BL/6 mice than the previously characterized hIRBP1-20 epitope. Using truncated and substituted peptides, as well as bioinformatic analysis, we identified the critical contact residues with MHC/TCR and defined the minimal core epitope. This made it possible to design MHC tetramers and use them to detect epitope-specific T cells in the uveitic eye and in lymphoid organs of hIRBP651-670–immunized mice.
Data suggest that hIRBP651-670 is an epitope naturally processed from a conserved region of native IRBP, potentially explaining its relatively high uveitogenicity. This epitope should be useful for basic and preclinical studies of uveitis in the C57BL/6 model and gives access to genetically engineered mice available on this background.
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