High crossreactivity of human T cell responses between Lassa virus lineages

PLoS Pathog. 2020 Mar 6;16(3):e1008352. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008352. eCollection 2020 Mar.


Lassa virus infects hundreds of thousands of people each year across rural West Africa, resulting in a high number of cases of Lassa fever (LF), a febrile disease associated with high morbidity and significant mortality. The lack of approved treatments or interventions underscores the need for an effective vaccine. At least four viral lineages circulate in defined regions throughout West Africa with substantial interlineage nucleotide and amino acid diversity. An effective vaccine should be designed to elicit Lassa virus specific humoral and cell mediated immunity across all lineages. Most current vaccine candidates use only lineage IV antigens encoded by Lassa viruses circulating around Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea but not Nigeria where lineages I-III are found. As previous infection is known to protect against disease from subsequent exposure, we sought to determine whether LF survivors from Nigeria and Sierra Leone harbor memory T cells that respond to lineage IV antigens. Our results indicate a high degree of cross-reactivity of CD8+ T cells from Nigerian LF survivors to lineage IV antigens. In addition, we identified regions within the Lassa virus glycoprotein complex and nucleoprotein that contributed to these responses while T cell epitopes were not widely conserved across our study group. These data are important for current efforts to design effective and efficient vaccine candidates that can elicit protective immunity across all Lassa virus lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lassa virus / immunology*
  • Male
  • Species Specificity


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte