Refinement in the production and purification of recombinant HCMV IE1-pp65 protein for the generation of epitope-specific T cell immunity

Bone Marrow Transplant Research Laboratory, 1st Floor William Buckland Building, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia.
Protein Expression and Purification (Impact Factor: 1.7). 06/2008; 61(1):22-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.pep.2008.05.001
Source: PubMed


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) remains one of the most common opportunistic infections causing disease following stem cell transplantation, despite the availability of anti-viral therapies. Adoptive immunotherapy has the potential to further aid in counteracting chronic viral reactivation and subsequent disease by restoring viral immunity through the transfer of virus-specific T cells from transplant donors to their recipients. Our study refines the production and purification of a recombinant HCMV protein containing two of the most immunodominant antigens (IE1 and pp65) for the generation of polyclonal HCMV-specific T cells. In doing so, a 6x His-tagged IE1-pp65 protein was generated using a serum-free baculovirus/insect cell expression system and soluble IE1-pp65 protein was subsequently purified using Ni-NTA affinity chromatography under stringent conditions to obtain a highly pure product. The ability of the recombinant IE1-pp65 protein to elicit a functional T cell mediated immune response was demonstrated by the vigorous reactivation and expansion of HLA-A2-restricted pp65(495-503)-specific CD8+ T cells. This recombinant IE1-pp65 protein can potentially generate a multitude of HLA-restricted HCMV-specific T cells, providing a better alternative to using costly overlapping peptides or HCMV lysates for expansion of T cells for use in adoptive immunotherapy strategies.

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Available from: Nicole A Mifsud
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    ABSTRACT: CD8(+) T cell immunity has a critical function in controlling human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. In immunocompromized individuals, HCMV reactivation or disease can lead to increased morbidity and mortality, particularly in transplant recipients. In this setting, adoptive transfer of HCMV-specific CD8(+) T cells is a promising vaccine strategy to restore viral immunity, with most clinical approaches focussing on the use of peptides for the generation of single epitope-specific CD8(+) T cells. We show that using an IE1-pp65 chimeric protein as the antigen source promotes effective cross-presentation, by monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs), to generate polyclonal CD8(+) T cell epitopes. By exploring human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted immunodominance hierarchies both within and across two immunodominant proteins, we show that HLA-B7 epitopes elicit higher CD8(+) T cell responses compared with HLA-A1, -A2 or -B8. This study provides important evidence highlighting both the efficacy of the IE1-pp65 chimeric protein and the importance of immunodominance in designing future therapeutic vaccines.
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    ABSTRACT: Identification of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes has traditionally relied upon testing of overlapping peptide libraries for their reactivity with T cells in vitro. Here, we pursued deep ligand sequencing (DLS) as an alternative method of directly identifying those ligands that are epitopes presented to CTLs by the class I human leukocyte antigens (HLA) of infected cells. Soluble class I HLA-A*11:01 (sHLA) was gathered from HIV-1 NL4-3-infected human CD4+ SUP-T1 cells. HLA-A*11:01 harvested from infected cells was immunoaffinity purified and acid boiled to release heavy and light chains from peptide ligands that were then recovered by size-exclusion filtration. The ligands were first fractionated by high-pH high-pressure liquid chromatography and then subjected to separation by nano-liquid chromatography (nano-LC)-mass spectrometry (MS) at low pH. Approximately 10 million ions were selected for sequencing by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). HLA-A*11:01 ligand sequences were determined with PEAKS software and confirmed by comparison to spectra generated from synthetic peptides. DLS identified 42 viral ligands presented by HLA-A*11:01, and 37 of these were previously undetected. These data demonstrate that (i) HIV-1 Gag and Nef are extensively sampled, (ii) ligand length variants are prevalent, particularly within Gag and Nef hot spots where ligand sequences overlap, (iii) noncanonical ligands are T cell reactive, and (iv) HIV-1 ligands are derived from de novo synthesis rather than endocytic sampling. Next-generation immunotherapies must factor these nascent HIV-1 ligand length variants and the finding that CTL-reactive epitopes may be absent during infection of CD4+ T cells into strategies designed to enhance T cell immunity.
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