[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages (Møs) internalize and process exogenous HIV-derived antigens for cross-presentation by MHC-I to cytotoxic CD8+ T cells (CTL). However, how degradation patterns of HIV antigens in the cross-presentation pathways affect immunodominance and immune escape is poorly defined. Here, we studied the processing and cross-presentation of dominant and subdominant HIV-1 Gag-derived epitopes and HLA-restricted mutants by monocyte-derived DCs and Møs. The cross-presentation of HIV proteins by both DCs and Møs led to higher CTL responses specific for immunodominant epitopes. The low CTL responses to subdominant epitopes were increased by pretreatment of target cells with peptidase inhibitors, suggestive of higher intracellular degradation of the corresponding peptides. Using DC and Mø cell extracts as a source of cytosolic, endosomal or lysosomal proteases to degrade long HIV peptides, we identified by mass spectrometry cell-specific and compartment-specific degradation patterns, which favored the production of peptides containing immunodominant epitopes in all compartments. The intracellular stability of optimal HIV-1 epitopes prior to loading onto MHC was highly variable and sequence-dependent in all compartments, and followed CTL hierarchy with immunodominant epitopes presenting higher stability rates. Common HLA-associated mutations in a dominant epitope appearing during acute HIV infection modified the degradation patterns of long HIV peptides, reduced intracellular stability and epitope production in cross-presentation-competent cell compartments, showing that impaired epitope production in the cross-presentation pathway contributes to immune escape. These findings highlight the contribution of degradation patterns in the cross-presentation pathway to HIV immunodominance and provide the first demonstration of immune escape affecting epitope cross-presentation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ara h 1 is a major peanut allergen. Processing-induced modifications may modulate the allergenic potency of Ara h 1. Carboxymethyl lysine (CML) modifications are a commonly described nonenzymatic modification on food proteins. In the current study, we tested the ability of digestive and endolysosomal proteases to cleave CML-modified and unmodified Ara h 1 peptides. Mass spectrometric analyses of the digested peptides demonstrate that carboxymethylation of lysine residues renders these peptides refractory to trypsin digestion. We did not detect observable differences in the simulated gastric fluid or endolysosomal digestion between the parental and CML-modified peptides. One of the tested peptides contains a lysine residue previously shown to be CML modified laying in a previously mapped linear IgE epitope, but we did not observe a difference in IgE binding between the modified and parental peptides. Our findings suggest a molecular mechanism for the increased resistance of peanut allergens modified by thermal processing, such as Ara h 1, to digestion in intestinal fluid after heating and could help explain how food processing-induced modifications may lead to more potent food allergens by acting to protect intact IgE epitopes from digestion by proteases targeting lysine residues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs), macrophages (MPs), and monocytes are permissive to HIV. Whether they similarly process and present HIV epitopes to HIV-specific CD8 T cells is unknown despite the critical role of peptide processing and presentation for recognition and clearance of infected cells. Cytosolic peptidases degrade endogenous proteins originating from self or pathogens, exogenous Ags preprocessed in endolysosomes, thus shaping the peptidome available for endoplasmic reticulum translocation, trimming, and MHC-I presentation. In this study, we compared the capacity of DCs, MPs, and monocyte cytosolic extracts to produce epitope precursors and epitopes. We showed differences in the proteolytic activities and expression levels of cytosolic proteases between monocyte-derived DCs and MPs and upon maturation with LPS, R848, and CL097, with mature MPs having the highest activities. Using cytosol as a source of proteases to degrade epitope-containing HIV peptides, we showed by mass spectrometry that the degradation patterns of long peptides and the kinetics and amount of antigenic peptides produced differed among DCs, MPs, and monocytes. Additionally, variable intracellular stability of HIV peptides prior to loading onto MHC may accentuate the differences in epitope availability for presentation by MHC-I between these subsets. Differences in peptide degradation led to 2- to 25-fold differences in the CTL responses elicited by the degradation peptides generated in DCs, MPs, and monocytes. Differences in Ag-processing activities between these subsets might lead to variations in the timing and efficiency of recognition of HIV-infected cells by CTLs and contribute to the unequal capacity of HIV-specific CTLs to control viral load.
The Journal of Immunology 09/2014; 193(9). DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.1400491 · 4.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The degradation of HIV-derived proteins into epitopes displayed by MHC-I or MHC-II are the first events leading to the priming of HIV-specific immune responses and to the recognition of infected cells. Despite a wealth of information about peptidases involved in protein degradation, our knowledge of epitope presentation during HIV infection remains limited. Here we review current data on HIV protein degradation linking epitope production and immunodominance, viral evolution and impaired epitope presentation. We propose that an in-depth understanding of HIV antigen processing and presentation in relevant primary cells could be exploited to identify signatures leading to efficient or inefficient epitope presentation in HIV proteomes, and to improve the design of immunogens eliciting immune responses efficiently recognizing all infected cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ag processing by intracellular proteases and peptidases and epitope presentation are critical for recognition of pathogen-infected cells by CD8(+) T lymphocytes. First-generation HIV protease inhibitors (PIs) alter proteasome activity, but the effect of first- or second-generation PIs on other cellular peptidases, the underlying mechanism, and impact on Ag processing and epitope presentation to CTL are still unknown. In this article, we demonstrate that several HIV PIs altered not only proteasome but also aminopeptidase activities in PBMCs. Using an in vitro degradation assay involving PBMC cytosolic extracts, we showed that PIs altered the degradation patterns of oligopeptides and peptide production in a sequence-specific manner, enhancing the cleavage of certain residues and reducing others. PIs affected the sensitivity of peptides to intracellular degradation, and altered the kinetics and amount of HIV epitopes produced intracellularly. Accordingly, the endogenous degradation of incoming virions in the presence of PIs led to variations in CTL-mediated killing of HIV-infected cells. By altering host protease activities and the degradation patterns of proteins in a sequence-specific manner, HIV PIs may diversify peptides available for MHC class I presentation to CTL, alter the patterns of CTL responses, and provide a complementary approach to current therapies for the CTL-mediated clearance of abnormal cells in infection, cancer, or other immune disease.
The Journal of Immunology 03/2014; 192(8). DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.1302805 · 4.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HIV sequence diversity and potential decoy epitopes are hurdles in the development of an effective AIDS vaccine. A DNA vaccine candidate comprising of highly conserved p24(gag) elements (CE) induced robust immunity in all 10 vaccinated macaques, whereas full-length gag DNA vaccination elicited responses to these conserved elements in only 5 of 11 animals, targeting fewer CE per animal. Importantly, boosting CE-primed macaques with DNA expressing full-length p55(gag) increased both magnitude of CE responses and breadth of Gag immunity, demonstrating alteration of the hierarchy of epitope recognition in the presence of pre-existing CE-specific responses. Inclusion of a conserved element immunogen provides a novel and effective strategy to broaden responses against highly diverse pathogens by avoiding decoy epitopes, while focusing responses to critical viral elements for which few escape pathways exist.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e86254. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086254 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) to clear virus-infected cells requires the presentation of viral peptides intracellularly processed and displayed by major histocompatibility complex class I. Assays to measure CTL-mediated killing often use peptides exogenously added onto target cells -which does not account for epitope processing- or follow killing of infected cells at a single time point. In this study we established a real-time fluorogenic cytotoxic assay that measures the release of the Glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase by dying target cells every 5minutes after addition of CTL. It has comparable sensitivity to (51)chromium-based killing assay with the additional advantage of incorporating the kinetics of epitope presentation. We showed that HIV infection of immortalized or primary CD4 T cells leads to asynchronous killing by two CTL clones specific for epitopes located in different proteins. Real-time monitoring of killing of virus-infected cells will enable identification of immune responses efficiently preventing virus dissemination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endolysosomes play a key role in maintaining the homeostasis of the cell. They are made of a complex set of proteins that degrade lipids, proteins and sugars. Studies involving endolysosome contribution to cellular functions such as MHC class I and II epitope production have used recombinant endolysosomal proteins, knockout mice that lack one of the enzymes or purified organelles from human tissue. Each of these approaches has some caveats in analyzing endolysosomal enzyme functions.
In this study, we have developed a simple methodology to assess endolysosomal protease activity. By varying the pH in crude lysate from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), we documented increased endolysosomal cathepsin activity in acidic conditions. Using this new method, we showed that the degradation of HIV peptides in low pH extracts analyzed by mass spectrometry followed similar kinetics and degradation patterns as those performed with purified endolysosomes.
By using crude lysate in the place of purified organelles this method will be a quick and useful tool to assess endolysosomal protease activities in primary cells of limited availability. This quick method will especially be useful to screen peptide susceptibility to degradation in endolysosomal compartments for antigen processing studies, following which detailed analysis using purified organelles may be used to study specific peptides.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HIV-1 establishes a life-long infection in the human body, but host factors that influence viral persistence remain poorly understood.Cell-intrinsic characteristics of CD4 T cells, the main target cells for HIV-1, may impact the composition of the latent viral reservoir by altering the susceptibility to CD8 T cell mediated killing.
We observed that susceptibilities of CD4 T cells to CD8 T cell-mediated killing, as determined in direct ex-vivo assays, were significantly higher in persons with natural control of HIV-1 (elite controllers) than in individuals effectively treated with antiretroviral therapy. These differences were most pronounced in naïve and in terminally-differentiated CD4 T cells, and corresponded to a reduced viral reservoir size in elite controllers. Interestingly, the highest susceptibility to CD8 T cell-mediated killing and lowest reservoirs of cell-associated HIV-1 DNA was consistently observed in elite controllers expressing the protective HLA class I allele B57.
These data suggest that the functional responsiveness of host CD4 T cells to cytotoxic effects of HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells can contribute to shaping the structure and composition of the latently infected CD4 T cell pool.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are protective in HIV-1 infection, the factors determining their antiviral efficiency are poorly defined. It is proposed that Gag targeting is superior due to very early Gag epitope presentation, allowing early killing of infected cells before Nef-mediated downregulation of Human Leukocyte Antigen class I (HLA-I). To study Gag epitope presentation kinetics, three epitopes (SL977-85, KF11162-172, and TW10240-249) were genetically translocated from their endogenous location in the Rev-dependent (late) gag gene into the Rev-independent (early) nef gene with concomitant mutation of the corresponding endogenous epitopes to non-recognized sequences. These viruses were compared to index virus for CTL-mediated suppression of replication and susceptibility of this antiviral activity to Nef-mediated HLA-I downregulation. SL9-specific CTLs gained activity after SL9 translocation to Nef, going from Nef-sensitive to Nef-insensitive, indicating that translocation accelerated infected cell recognition from before to after HLA-I downregulation. KF11-specific CTL antiviral activity was unchanged and insensitive to HLA-I downregulation before and after KF11 translocation, suggesting that already rapid recognition of infected cells was not accelerated. However, TW10-specific CTLs that were insensitive to Nef at baseline became sensitive with reduced antiviral activity after translocation, indicating that translocation retarded epitope expression. Cytosolic peptide processing assays suggested that TW10 was inefficiently generated after translocation to Nef compared to SL9 and KF11. As a whole, these data demonstrate that epitope presentation kinetics play an important role in CTL antiviral efficiency, that Gag epitopes are not uniformly presented early, and that epitope context can play a major role in presentation kinetics.
Journal of Virology 06/2013; 87(15). DOI:10.1128/JVI.01040-13 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viral diversity is considered a major impediment to the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. Despite this diversity, certain protein segments are nearly invariant across the known HIV-1 Group M sequences. We developed immunogens based on the highly conserved elements from the p24(gag) region according to two principles: the immunogen must (i) include strictly conserved elements of the virus that cannot mutate readily, and (ii) exclude both HIV regions capable of mutating without limiting virus viability, and also immunodominant epitopes located in variable regions. We engineered two HIV-1 p24(gag) DNA immunogens that express 7 highly Conserved Elements (CE) of 12-24 amino acids in length and differ by only 1 amino acid in each CE ('toggle site'), together covering >99% of the HIV-1 Group M sequences. Altering intracellular trafficking of the immunogens changed protein localization, stability, and also the nature of elicited immune responses. Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with p55(gag) DNA induced poor, CD4(+) mediated cellular responses, to only 2 of the 7 CE; in contrast, vaccination with p24CE DNA induced cross-clade reactive, robust T cell responses to 4 of the 7 CE. The responses were multifunctional and composed of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells with mature cytotoxic phenotype. These findings provide a method to increase immune response to universally conserved Gag epitopes, using the p24CE immunogen. p24CE DNA vaccination induced humoral immune responses similar in magnitude to those induced by p55(gag), which recognize the virus encoded p24(gag) protein. The inclusion of DNA immunogens composed of conserved elements is a promising vaccine strategy to induce broader immunity by CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells to additional regions of Gag compared to vaccination with p55(gag) DNA, achieving maximal cross-clade reactive cellular and humoral responses.
PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e60245. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0060245 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viruses evade immune detection partly through immune-associated mutations. Analyses of HIV sequences derived from infected individuals have identified numerous examples of HLA-associated mutations within or adjacent to T cell epitopes, but the potential impact of most mutations on epitope production and presentation remains unclear. The multistep breakdown of proteins into epitopes includes trimming of N-extended peptides into epitopes by aminopeptidases before loading onto MHC class I molecules. Definition of sequence signatures that modulate epitope production would lead to a better understanding of factors driving viral evolution and immune escape at the population level. In this study, we identified cytosolic aminopeptidases cleavage preferences in primary cells and its impact on HIV Ag degradation into epitopes in primary human cell extracts by mass spectrometry and on epitope presentation to CTL. We observed a hierarchy of preferred amino acid cleavage by cytosolic aminopeptidases. We demonstrated that flanking mutations producing more or less cleavable motifs can increase or decrease epitope production and presentation by up to 14-fold. We found that the efficiency of epitope production correlates with cleavability of flanking residues. These in vitro findings were supported by in vivo population-level analyses of clinically derived viral sequences from 1134 antiretroviral-naive HIV-infected individuals: HLA-associated mutations immune pressures drove the selection of residues that are less cleavable by aminopeptidases predominantly at N-flanking sites, leading to reduced epitope production and immune recognition. These results underscore an important and widespread role of Ag processing mutations in HIV immune escape and identify molecular mechanisms underlying impaired epitope presentation.
The Journal of Immunology 05/2012; 188(12):5924-34. DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.1200219 · 4.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induction of virus-specific CD8⁺ T cell responses is critical for the success of vaccines against chronic viral infections. Despite the large number of potential MHC-I-restricted epitopes located in viral proteins, MHC-I-restricted epitope generation is inefficient, and factors defining the production and presentation of MHC-I-restricted viral epitopes are poorly understood. Here, we have demonstrated that the half-lives of HIV-derived peptides in cytosol from primary human cells were highly variable and sequence dependent, and significantly affected the efficiency of cell recognition by CD8⁺ T cells. Furthermore, multiple clinical isolates of HLA-associated HIV epitope variants displayed reduced half-lives relative to consensus sequence. This decreased cytosolic peptide stability diminished epitope presentation and CTL recognition, illustrating a mechanism of immune escape. Chaperone complexes including Hsp90 and histone deacetylase HDAC6 enhanced peptide stability by transient protection from peptidase degradation. Based on empirical results with 166 peptides, we developed a computational approach utilizing a sequence-based algorithm to estimate the cytosolic stability of antigenic peptides. Our results identify sequence motifs able to alter the amount of peptide available for loading onto MHC-I, suggesting potential new strategies to modulate epitope production from vaccine immunogens.
The Journal of clinical investigation 06/2011; 121(6):2480-92. DOI:10.1172/JCI44932 · 13.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) recognize peptides presented by HLA class I molecules on the cell surface. The C terminus of these CTL epitopes is considered to be produced by the proteasome. Here we demonstrate that the cytosolic endopeptidases nardilysin and thimet oligopeptidase (TOP) complemented proteasome activity. Nardilysin and TOP were required, either together or alone, for the generation of a tumor-specific CTL epitope from PRAME, an immunodominant CTL epitope from Epstein-Barr virus protein EBNA3C, and a clinically important epitope from the melanoma protein MART-1. TOP functioned as C-terminal trimming peptidase in antigen processing, and nardilysin contributed to both the C-terminal and N-terminal generation of CTL epitopes. By broadening the antigenic peptide repertoire, nardilysin and TOP strengthen the immune defense against intracellular pathogens and cancer.