T cell recognition of peptides presented by human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) is mediated by the highly variable T cell receptor (TCR). Despite this built-in TCR variability, individuals can mount immune responses against viral epitopes by using identical or highly related TCRs expressed on CD8+ T cells. Characterization of these TCRs has extended our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern the recognition of peptide-HLA. However, few examples exist for CD4+ T cells. Here, we investigate CD4+ T cell responses to the internal proteins of the influenza A virus that correlate with protective immunity. We identify five internal epitopes that are commonly recognized by CD4+ T cells in five HLA-DR1+ subjects and show conservation across viral strains and zoonotic reservoirs. TCR repertoire analysis demonstrates several shared gene usage biases underpinned by complementary biochemical features evident in a structural comparison. These epitopes are attractive targets for vaccination and other T cell therapies.
Keywords: CD4 T cells; HLA class II; T cell receptor; X-ray crystallography; biochemistry; clonotyping; immunology; influenza; pHLA mutlimer; peptide epitopes.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.