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Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4515, 2021 07 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1327196

ABSTRACT

The in vivo phenotypic profile of T cells reactive to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2 antigens remains poorly understood. Conventional methods to detect antigen-reactive T cells require in vitro antigenic re-stimulation or highly individualized peptide-human leukocyte antigen (pHLA) multimers. Here, we use single-cell RNA sequencing to identify and profile SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. To do so, we induce transcriptional shifts by antigenic stimulation in vitro and take advantage of natural T cell receptor (TCR) sequences of clonally expanded T cells as barcodes for 'reverse phenotyping'. This allows identification of SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs and reveals phenotypic effects introduced by antigen-specific stimulation. We characterize transcriptional signatures of currently and previously activated SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells, and show correspondence with phenotypes of T cells from the respiratory tract of patients with severe disease in the presence or absence of virus in independent cohorts. Reverse phenotyping is a powerful tool to provide an integrated insight into cellular states of SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells across tissues and activation states.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods , Single-Cell Analysis/methods , T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/virology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cells, Cultured , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/genetics , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , T-Lymphocytes/virology
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