Rotavirus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) play an important role in the resolution of rotavirus infection. The outer capsid glycoprotein, VP7, elicits a class I MHC-restricted CTL response. Vaccinia virus recombinants expressing the VP7 genes from simian rotavirus SA11 (serotype G3) and from the RF strain of bovine rotavirus (serotype G6) were used to analyze the CTL activity to this antigen in BALB/c (H-2(d)) and C57BL/6 (H-2(b)) mice neonatally infected with homologous and heterologous rotaviruses. A vaccinia virus recombinant expressing the first amino-terminal 88 amino acids of VP7 was constructed and used to search for cross-reactive CTL against this region of the protein. By using synthetic Kb, Db, and Kd motif-fitting peptides two overlapping CTL epitopes have been identified located in the first hydrophobic domain (H1) of VP7. Splenocytes obtained from rotavirus SA11-infected C57BL/6 mice induced the strongest CTL response against target cells sensitized with a peptide containing a Kb-restricted CTL epitope (amino acids 8-16). A second Kd-restricted epitope (residues 5-13) was recognized by splenocytes derived from rotavirus-infected BALB/c mice. These findings reveal the existence of CTL epitopes in the H1 signal sequence of the VP7 glycoprotein that coexist with a CTL epitope (residues 31-40) previously described within the H2 region.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.