A systematic molecular analysis of the T cell-stimulating antigens from Mycobacterium leprae with T cell clones of leprosy patients. Identification of a novel M. leprae HSP 70 fragment by M. leprae-specific T cells

A. A. Janson, P. R. Klatser, R. van der Zee, Y. E. Cornelisse, R. R. de Vries, J. E. Thole, T. H. Ottenhoff

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Both protective immunity and immunopathology induced by mycobacteria are dependent on Ag-specific, CD4+ MHC class II-restricted T lymphocytes. The identification of Ag recognized by T cells is fundamental to the understanding of protective and pathologic immunity as well as to the design of effective immunoprophylaxis and immunotherapy strategies. Although some T cell clones are known to respond to recombinant mycobacterial heat shock proteins (hsp) like hsp3 65, the specificity of most T cells has remained unknown. We therefore have undertaken a specificity analysis of 48 well defined Mycobacterium leprae- and/or Mycobacterium tuberculosis-reactive (Th-1-like) T cell clones. Most clones (n = 44) were derived from different leprosy patients, and the remainder from one healthy control. Their HLA restriction molecules were DR2, DR3, DR4, DR5, DR7, DQ, or DP. T cell clones were stimulated with large numbers (n = 20 to 40) of mycobacterial SDS-PAGE-separated fractions bound to nitrocellulose. Each clone recognized a single fraction or peak with a particular Mr range. Some of the clones (n = 7) recognized the fraction that contained the hsp 65 as confirmed with the recombinant Ag. Most clones (n = 41), however, responded to Ag other than the hsp 65. Nine clones responded to a 67- to 80-kDa fraction. Five of them responded also to an ATP-purified, 70-kDa M. leprae protein, but only one of these five (that was HLA-DR2 restricted and cross-reactive with M. tuberculosis) recognized the recombinant C-terminal half (amino acids 278-621) of the M. leprae hsp 70 molecule and also recognized the recombinant M. tuberculosis hsp 70. We therefore have used the 5' part of the M. leprae hsp 70 gene that we have cloned recently. This fragment (that encodes amino acids 6-279) was indeed recognized by the other four M. leprae-specific T cells that were all HLA-DR3 restricted and did not cross-react with the highly homologous (95%) M. tuberculosis hsp 70. These results suggest that this novel fragment is a relevant T cell-stimulating Ag for leprosy patients. A panel of other recombinant Ag, including hsp 18 was tested. The majority of T cell clones appeared to recognize antigenic fractions distinct from hsp. In conclusion, T cells of leprosy patients see a large variety of different Ag including non-hsp, and one newly recognized moiety is the N-terminal M. leprae hsp 70 fragment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3530-3537
JournalJournal of immunology (Baltimore, Md.
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1991

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