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Ameres, Stefanie; Liang, Xiaoling; Wiesner, Martina; Mautner, Josef and Moosmann, Andreas (2015): A Diverse Repertoire of CD4 T Cells Targets the Immediate-Early 1 Protein of Human Cytomegalovirus. In: Frontiers in Immunology, Vol. 6, 598 [PDF, 10MB]

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T-cell responses to the immediate-early 1 (IE-1) protein of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) are associated with protection from viral disease. Thus, IE-1 is a promising target for immunotherapy. CD8 T-cell responses to IE-1 are generally strong. In contrast, CD4 T-cell responses to IE-1 were described to be comparatively infrequent or undetectable in HCMV carriers, and information on their target epitopes and their function has been limited. To analyze the repertoire of IE-1-specific CD4 T cells, we expanded them from healthy donors with autologous IE-1-expressing mini-Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B-cell lines and established IE-1-specific CD4 T-cell clones. Clones from seven out of seven HCMV-positive donors recognized endogenously processed IE-1 epitopes restricted through HLA-DR, DQ, or DP. Three to seven IE-1 epitopes were recognized per donor. Cumulatively, about 27 different HLA/peptide class II complexes were recognized by 117 IE-1-specific clones. Our results suggest that a highly diversified repertoire of IE-1-specific CD4 T cells targeting multiple epitopes is usually present in healthy HCMV carriers. Therefore, multiepitope approaches to immunomonitoring and immunotherapy will make optimal use of this potentially important class of HCMV-specific effector cells.

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