Mouse allergy in both laboratory workers and in inner-city children is associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma, posing a serious public health concern. Urine is a major source of mouse allergens, as mice spray urine onto their surroundings, where the proteins dry up and become airborne on dust particles. Here, we tested whether oligopeptides that are abundant in mouse urine may contribute to mouse allergic T cell response. Over 1,300 distinct oligopeptides were detected by mass spectrometry analysis of the low molecular weight filtrate fraction of mouse urine (LoMo). Posttranslationally modified peptides were common, accounting for almost half of total peptides. A pool consisting of 225 unique oligopeptides of 13 residues or more in size identified within was tested for its capacity to elicit T cell reactivity in mouse allergic donors. Following 14-day in vitro stimulation of PBMCs, we detected responses in about 95% of donors tested, directed against 116 distinct peptides, predominantly associated with Th2 cytokines (IL-5). Peptides from non-urine related proteins such as epidermal growth factor, collagen, and Beta-globin accounted for the highest response (15.9, 9.1, and 8.1% of the total response, respectively). Peptides derived from major urinary proteins (MUPs), kidney androgen-regulated protein (KAP), and uromodulin were the main T cell targets from kidney or urine related sources. Further ex vivo analysis of enrichment of 4-1BB expressing cells demonstrated that LoMo pool-specific T cell reactivity can be detected directly ex vivo in mouse allergic but not in non-allergic donors. Further cytometric analysis of responding cells revealed a bone fide memory T cell phenotype and confirmed their Th2 polarization. Overall, these data suggest that mouse urine-derived oligopeptides are a novel target for mouse allergy-associated T cell responses, which may contribute to immunopathological mechanisms in mouse allergy.
Keywords: T cell; allergen; epitopes; mouse; peptides; urine.