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Ruchi Srivastava, Arif A Khan, Doran Spencer, Sumit Garg, Anthony B Nesburn, Steven Wechsler, Lbachir BenMohamed; HLA-A02:01-Restricted Epitopes Identified from the Herpes Simplex Virus Tegument Protein VP11/12 Preferentially Recall Polyfunctional Effector Memory CD8+ T Cells from Seropositive Asymptomatic Individuals and Protect “Humanized” HLA-A*02:01 Transgenic Mice Against Ocular Herpes. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):1858.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 virion tegument phosphoprotein 11/12 (HSV-1 VP11/12) is a major antigen targeted by CD8+ T cells from HSV-seropositive individuals. However, whether and which VP11/12-epitope-specific CD8+ T cells play a role in the “natural” protection seen in seropositive healthy asymptomatic (ASYMP) individuals (who have never had clinical herpes disease) remain to be determined.
In this study, we used multiple prediction computer-assisted algorithms to identify 10 potential HLA-A*02:01-restricted CD8+ T cell epitopes from the 718 amino acids sequence of VP11/12.
Three out of ten epitopes exhibited high to moderate binding affinity to HLA-A*02:01 molecules. In ten sequentially studied HLA-A*02:01 positive and HSV-1-seropositive ASYMP individuals, the most frequent, robust and polyfunctional effector CD8+ T-cell responses, as assessed by a combination of tetramer frequency, granzyme B, granzyme K, perforin, CD107a/b cytotoxic degranulation, IFN-g and multiplex cytokines assays, were predominantly directed against three epitopes: VP11/1266-74, VP11/12220-228 and VP11/12702-710. Interestingly, ASYMP individuals had significantly higher proportion of CD45RAlowCCR7lowCD44highCD62LlowCD27lowCD28lowCD8+ effector memory T cells (TEM) specific to the three epitopes, compared to symptomatic (SYMP) individuals (with a history of numerous episodes of recurrent ocular herpetic disease). Moreover, immunization of HLA-A*02:01 transgenic mice with the three ASYMP CD8+ T cell epitopes induced robust and polyfunctional epitope-specific CD8+ TEM cells, in both cornea and trigeminal ganglia (TG), that were associated with a strong protective immunity against ocular herpes infection and disease.
Our findings outline phenotypic and functional features of protective HSV-specific CD8+ T cells that should guide the development of an effective T-cell-based herpes vaccine.
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