Many unknowns exist about human immune responses to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ T cells have been reported in unexposed individuals, suggesting preexisting cross-reactive T cell memory in 20 to 50% of people. However, the source of those T cells has been speculative. Using human blood samples derived before the SARS-CoV-2 virus was discovered in 2019, we mapped 142 T cell epitopes across the SARS-CoV-2 genome to facilitate precise interrogation of the SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cell repertoire. We demonstrate a range of preexisting memory CD4+ T cells that are cross-reactive with comparable affinity to SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold coronaviruses human coronavirus (HCoV)-OC43, HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-HKU1. Thus, variegated T cell memory to coronaviruses that cause the common cold may underlie at least some of the extensive heterogeneity observed in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease.
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