Background Allergic individuals respond to only a few specific antigens, therefore allergic diseases are characterized by antigen specificity. Clarification of the mechanism of antigen specificity will lead to progress in the therapy of allergic diseases.
Objectives The purpose of this study is to determine the specific association among T cell epitopes, antigen-presenting molecules and T cell receptor (TCR), and to determine the TCR usage in the pathogenesis of allergies using antigen-specific T cell clones (TCCs). The results can clarify the mechanism of the antigen specificity of allergic diseases, and provide new therapeutic possibilities using analogue peptides.
Methods Short-term T cell clones specific to β-lactoglobulin (BLG) were established from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) collected from five patients allergic to cow's milk. We then identified the T cell epitopes and antigen-presenting molecules, and examined TCR usage. We also determined the sequence of the TCR-complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3).
Results Six TCCs established from the five patients recognized three different peptides, and BLGp97–117 was recognized by four of the six TCCs. BLGp101–112 (KYLLFCMENSAE) was the core sequence in the fragment. Sequence analysis of TCR by the RT-PCR method revealed a marked heterogeneity in TCR usage, and similar amino acid sequences were recognized in the CDR3 region. Four of the six TCCs recognized BLG in association with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*0405 as antigen-presenting molecules.
Conclusion We proposed the motif of the interaction between the HLA-DRB1*0405 allele and antigen peptide, and suggested that HLA-DRB1*0405 is an immunoregulatory gene product for T cell responses to BLG.