Loss in CD4 T-cell responses to multiple epitopes in influenza due to expression of one additional MHC class II molecule in the host


  • Jennifer L. Nayak,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY
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  • Andrea J. Sant

    1. David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, AaB Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA
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J. L. Nayak, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 690, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Email: jennifer_nayak@urmc.rochester.edu
Senior author: Jennifer L. Nayak


An understanding of factors controlling CD4 T-cell immunodominance is needed to pursue CD4 T-cell epitope-driven vaccine design, yet our understanding of this in humans is limited by the complexity of potential MHC class II molecule expression. In the studies described here, we took advantage of genetically restricted, well-defined mouse strains to better understand the effect of increasing MHC class II molecule diversity on the CD4 T-cell repertoire and the resulting anti-influenza immunodominance hierarchy. Interferon-γ ELISPOT assays were implemented to directly quantify CD4 T-cell responses to I-Ab and I-As restricted peptide epitopes following primary influenza virus infection in parental and F1 hybrid strains. We found striking and asymmetric declines in the magnitude of many peptide-specific responses in F1 animals. These declines could not be accounted for by the lower surface density of MHC class II on the cell or by antigen-presenting cells failing to stimulate T cells with lower avidity T-cell receptors. Given the large diversity of MHC class II expressed in humans, these findings have important implications for the rational design of peptide-based vaccines that are based on the premise that CD4 T-cell epitope specificity can be predicted by a simple cataloguing of an individual’s MHC class II genotype.