Delineation of the minimal encephalitogenic epitope within the immunodominant region of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein: diverse Vβ gene usage by T cells recognizing the core epitope encephalitogenic for T cell receptor Vβb and T cell receptor Vβa H-2b mice



The nature of the autoimmune T cell response to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), recently recognized as a potential target antigen in multiple sclerosis (MS), has not yet been characterized, in contrast to the T cell reactivity to other potential target antigens in MS such as myelin basic protein and proteolipid protein. Here, we show that the encephalitogenicity of the recombinant Ig-like domain of human MOG is associated, in H-2b mice, with an immunodominant T cell reactivity against a single region of MOG spanning amino acids 35–55, accounting for the previously reported strong encephalitogenic activity of pMOG 35–55. A single injection of pMOG 35–55 with or without administration of pertussis toxin was sufficient to induce severe clinical experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in H-2b mice. Encephalitogenic pMOG 35–55-specific T cell lines derived from C3H.SW (Vβb) mice were diverse in their TCR Vβ gene usage (Vβ1, Vβ6, Vβ8 and Vβ15), although Vβ8.2 was most predominantly expressed (48%). However, Vβ8+ T cells may only be part of the encephalitogenic MOG-specific T cell repertoire in H-2b mice, as demonstrated by the susceptibility of C57L (Vβa) mice to disease induced by pMOG 35–55. Encephalitogenic T cell lines from Vβa mice were also diverse in their TCR Vβ gene usage (Vβ1, Vβ2, Vβ6, Vβ14 and Vβ16). Such a heterogeneous TCR Vβ gene expression by pMOG 35–55/I-Ab-reactive T cells from both Vβa and Vβb H-2b mice suggested multiple epitopes within pMOG 35–55. Analysis of the pattern of reactivity by pMOG 35–55-reactive T cells to a set of truncated peptides was not commensurate with independent nested epitopes, but revealed a requirement for recognition of a core sequence, YRSPFSRVV (pMOG 40–48). However, optimal stimulation was obtained with longer peptides, with each additional amino acid flanking either the N or the C terminus differentially increasing the stimulatory capacity of pMOG 40–48. Nonetheless, pMOG 40–48 was the minimal encephalitogenic epitope for both Vβa and Vβb mice. Thus, the T cell reactivity against the immunodominant encephalitogenic region of MOG is characterized by a diverse Vβ gene usage and a requirement for the same core epitope. This pattern of reactivity may favor epitope-directed, rather than TCR-targeted, approaches to immunospecific therapy for MOG-related autoimmune disease.