Li X, Zhang L, Liu Y, Ma L, Zhang N, Xia C. Structures of the MHC-I molecule BF2*1501 disclose the preferred presentation of an H5N1 virus-derived epitope. J Biol Chem. 2020 Mar 9.
Lethal infections by strains of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 pose serious threats to both the poultry industry and public health worldwide. A lack of confirmed HPAIV epitopes recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) has hindered the utilization of CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity and has precluded the development of effectively diversified epitope-based vaccination approaches. In particular, an HPAIV H5N1 CTL-recognized epitope based on the peptide-MHC-I-β2m (pMHC-I) complex has not yet been designed. Here, screening a collection of selected peptides of several HPAIV strains against a specific pathogen-free (SPF) pMHC-I (pBF2*1501), we identified a highly conserved HPAIV H5N1 CTL epitope, named HPAIV-PA123-130 We determined the structure of the BF2*1501-PA123-130 complex at 2.1 ? resolution to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of a preferential presentation of the highly conserved PA123-130 epitope in the chicken B15 lineage. Conformational characteristics of the PA123-130 epitope with a protruding Tyr-7 residue indicated that this epitope has great potential to be recognized by specific TCRs. Moreover, significantly increased numbers of CD8+ T cells specific for the HPAIV-PA123-130 epitope in peptide-immunized chickens indicated that a repertoire of CD8+ T cells can specifically respond to this epitope. We anticipate that the identification and structural characterization of the PA123-130 epitope reported here could enable further studies of CTL immunity against HPAIV H5N1. Such studies may aid in the development of vaccine development strategies using well-conserved internal viral antigens in chickens.
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