Proteasome-catalyzed peptide splicing (PCPS) generates peptides that are presented by MHC class I molecules, but because their identification is challenging, the immunological relevance of spliced peptides remains unclear. Here, we developed a reverse immunology-based multi-level approach to identify proteasome-generated spliced epitopes. Applying this strategy to a murine Listeria monocytogenes infection model, we identified two spliced epitopes within the secreted bacterial phospholipase PlcB that primed antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in L. monocytogenes-infected mice. While reacting to the spliced epitopes, these CD8+ T cells failed to recognize the non-spliced peptide parts in the context of their natural flanking sequences. Thus, we here show that PCPS expands the CD8+ T cell response against L. monocytogenes by exposing spliced epitopes on the cell surface. Moreover, our multi-level strategy opens up opportunities to systematically investigate proteins for spliced epitope candidates and thus strategies for immunotherapies or vaccine design.
Keywords: Listeria monocytogenes; antigen presentation; in silico analysis; intracelllular bacteria; peptide splicing; proteasome.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.