Detection of virus-specific T cells and CD8+ T-cell epitopes by acquisition of peptide-HLA-GFP complexes: analysis of T-cell phenotype and function in chronic viral infections

Nat Med. 2003 Apr;9(4):469-76. doi: 10.1038/nm845. Epub 2003 Mar 24.


Antigen-specific CD8+ T cells acquire peptide-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) clusters through T-cell receptor (TCR)-mediated endocytosis after specific antigen stimulation. We generated an antigen-presenting cell (APC) expressing human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A*201 coupled to the enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP), which delivered GFP to an antigen-specific T cell when pulsed with antigenic peptide. We quantitatively identified human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) Tax(11-19) peptide-specific T-cell populations in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients with HTLV-I-associated neurologic disease and defined a new CD8+ T-cell epitope in the HTLV-I envelope region. Acquisition of peptide-HLA-GFP complexes by antigen-specific T cells could distinguish, with respect to phenotype and perforin production, T cells from the chronic viral infections cytomegalovirus and HTLV-I. This approach will be a powerful tool in understanding the role of antigen-specific T-cell responses in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • HLA-A Antigens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / immunology
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • HLA-A Antigens
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • TAX1BP1 protein, human
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins