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Nat Immunol ; 2022 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2284754


CD4+ T cells are essential for protection against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The sensitivity of CD4+ T cells to mutations in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) is poorly understood. Here, we isolated 159 SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cell clones from healthcare workers previously infected with wild-type SARS-CoV-2 (D614G) and defined 21 epitopes in spike, membrane and nucleoprotein. Lack of CD4+ T cell cross-reactivity between SARS-CoV-2 and endemic beta-coronaviruses suggested these responses arose from naïve rather than pre-existing cross-reactive coronavirus-specific T cells. Of the 17 epitopes located in the spike protein, 10 were mutated in VOCs and CD4+ T cell clone recognition of 7 of them was impaired, including 3 of the 4 epitopes mutated in omicron. Our results indicated that broad targeting of epitopes by CD4+ T cells likely limits evasion by current VOCs. However, continued genomic surveillance is vital to identify new mutations able to evade CD4+ T cell immunity.

Nat Immunol ; 22(5): 620-626, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387432


The immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is critical in controlling disease, but there is concern that waning immunity may predispose to reinfection. We analyzed the magnitude and phenotype of the SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell response in 100 donors at 6 months following infection. T cell responses were present by ELISPOT and/or intracellular cytokine staining analysis in all donors and characterized by predominant CD4+ T cell responses with strong interleukin (IL)-2 cytokine expression. Median T cell responses were 50% higher in donors who had experienced a symptomatic infection, indicating that the severity of primary infection establishes a 'set point' for cellular immunity. T cell responses to spike and nucleoprotein/membrane proteins were correlated with peak antibody levels. Furthermore, higher levels of nucleoprotein-specific T cells were associated with preservation of nucleoprotein-specific antibody level although no such correlation was observed in relation to spike-specific responses. In conclusion, our data are reassuring that functional SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses are retained at 6 months following infection.

Antigens, Viral/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunity, Cellular , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Viral/blood , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/virology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/virology , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , Female , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Interleukin-2/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Phenotype , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Time Factors , Young Adult