In vivo and in vitro immunogenicity of novel MHC class I presented epitopes to confer protective immunity against chronic HTLV-1 infection

Vaccine. 2018 Aug 9;36(33):5046-5057. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.07.002. Epub 2018 Jul 10.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has infected as many as 10 million people worldwide. While 90% are asymptomatic, 5% develop severe diseases including adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoka (ATLL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). No vaccine against HTLV-1 exists, and screening programs are not universal. However, patients with chronic HTLV-1 infection have high frequencies of HTLV-1-activated CD8+ T cells, and the two main HLA alleles (A2, A24) are present in 88% of infected individuals. We thus utilized an immunoproteomics approach to characterize MHC-I restricted epitopes presented by HLA-A2+, A24+ MT-2 and SLB-1 cell lines. Unlike traditional motif prediction algorithms, this approach identifies epitopes associated with cytotoxic T-cell responses in their naturally processed forms, minimizing differences in antigen processing and protein expression levels. Out of nine identified peptides, we confirmed six novel MHC-I restricted epitopes that were capable of binding HLA-A2 and HLA-A24 alleles and used in vitro and in vivo methods to generate CD8+ T cells specific for each of these peptides. MagPix MILLIPLEX data showed that in vitro generated epitope-specific CD8+ T cells secreted IFN-ɣ, granzyme B, MIP-1α, TNF-α, perforin and IL-10 when cultured in the presence of MT-2 cell line. Degranulation assay confirmed cytotoxic response through surface expression of CD107 on CD8+ T cells when cultured with MT-2 cells. A CD8+ T-cell killing assay indicated significant antiviral activity of CD8+ T cells specific against all identified peptides. In vivo generated CD8+ T cells similarly demonstrated immunogenicity on ELISpot, CD107 degranulation assay, and MagPix MILLIPLEX analysis. These epitopes are thus candidates for a therapeutic peptide-based vaccine against HTLV-1, and our results provide preclinical data for the advancement of such a vaccine.

Keywords: ATLL; Epitopes; HAM/TSP; HTLV-1; Immunoproteomics; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genes, MHC Class I / immunology*
  • HTLV-I Infections / immunology
  • HTLV-I Infections / prevention & control*
  • HTLV-I Infections / virology*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / immunology*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic


  • Epitopes