Characterization of an immunologically conserved epitope from hepatitis C virus E2 glycoprotein recognized by HLA-A2 restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes
Sarobe P, Huarte E, Lasarte JJ, López-Díaz de Cerio A, García N, Borrás-Cuesta F, Prieto J.
Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School and University Clinic, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Identification of epitopes recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins is of importance because they can be used for vaccination, treatment of infection or monitoring of immune responses. Our purpose was to characterize new CTL epitopes in HCV structural proteins.
Peptides were synthesized and tested in HLA-A2 binding assays. Binder peptides were used to stimulate peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HCV+ patients and controls, and activity measured in chromium release and ELISPOT assays.
Twenty binder peptides were found, and stimulation of HCV+ patient cells with nine peptides showing high binding ability led to the growth of CD8+ CTL recognizing peptide E2(614-622) in association with HLA-A2. Peptide E2(614-622) was recognized by 30% of HLA-A2+ patients with chronic HCV infection, but no responses were observed in control groups. Five peptides derived from region E2(614-622) from 26 different viral isolates bound to HLA-A2 molecules, and all of them but one, containing Phe at position 622, were recognized by E2(614-622) specific CTL.
These results show that peptide E2(614-622) belongs to a highly conserved region of HCV E2, and might be a good candidate to induce anti-HCV CTL responses in HLA-A2+ subjects.
CITATION J Hepatol. 2001 Feb;34(2):321-9