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Immunity ; 55(7): 1299-1315.e4, 2022 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2076210


As the establishment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific T cell memory in children remains largely unexplored, we recruited convalescent COVID-19 children and adults to define their circulating memory SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells prior to vaccination. We analyzed epitope-specific T cells directly ex vivo using seven HLA class I and class II tetramers presenting SARS-CoV-2 epitopes, together with Spike-specific B cells. Unvaccinated children who seroconverted had comparable Spike-specific but lower ORF1a- and N-specific memory T cell responses compared with adults. This agreed with our TCR sequencing data showing reduced clonal expansion in children. A strong stem cell memory phenotype and common T cell receptor motifs were detected within tetramer-specific T cells in seroconverted children. Conversely, children who did not seroconvert had tetramer-specific T cells of predominantly naive phenotypes and diverse TCRαß repertoires. Our study demonstrates the generation of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell memory with common TCRαß motifs in unvaccinated seroconverted children after their first virus encounter.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte , Humans , Immunologic Memory , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
Nat Immunol ; 23(7): 993-995, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1972634

Antigens, CD
Cell ; 185(4): 603-613.e15, 2022 02 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1588149


SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines induce robust anti-spike (S) antibody and CD4+ T cell responses. It is not yet clear whether vaccine-induced follicular helper CD4+ T (TFH) cell responses contribute to this outstanding immunogenicity. Using fine-needle aspiration of draining axillary lymph nodes from individuals who received the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, we evaluated the T cell receptor sequences and phenotype of lymph node TFH. Mining of the responding TFH T cell receptor repertoire revealed a strikingly immunodominant HLA-DPB1∗04-restricted response to S167-180 in individuals with this allele, which is among the most common HLA alleles in humans. Paired blood and lymph node specimens show that while circulating S-specific TFH cells peak one week after the second immunization, S-specific TFH persist at nearly constant frequencies for at least six months. Collectively, our results underscore the key role that robust TFH cell responses play in establishing long-term immunity by this efficacious human vaccine.

COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Immunity/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T Follicular Helper Cells/immunology , Vaccination , Vaccines, Synthetic/immunology , mRNA Vaccines/immunology , Adult , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , BNT162 Vaccine/immunology , COVID-19/blood , Clone Cells , Cohort Studies , Cytokines/metabolism , Female , Germinal Center/immunology , HLA-DP beta-Chains/immunology , Humans , Immunodominant Epitopes/immunology , Jurkat Cells , Lymph Nodes/metabolism , Male , Middle Aged , Peptides/chemistry , Peptides/metabolism , Protein Multimerization , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/metabolism
J Biol Chem ; 297(3): 101065, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1347684


CD8+ T cells play an important role in vaccination and immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Although numerous SARS-CoV-2 CD8+ T cell epitopes have been identified, the molecular basis underpinning T cell receptor (TCR) recognition of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells remains unknown. The T cell response directed toward SARS-CoV-2 spike protein-derived S269-277 peptide presented by the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A∗02:01 allomorph (hereafter the HLA-A2S269-277 epitope) is, to date, the most immunodominant SARS-CoV-2 epitope found in individuals bearing this allele. As HLA-A2S269-277-specific CD8+ T cells utilize biased TRAV12 gene usage within the TCR α-chain, we sought to understand the molecular basis underpinning this TRAV12 dominance. We expressed four TRAV12+ TCRs which bound the HLA-A2S269-277 complex with low micromolar affinity and determined the crystal structure of the HLA-A2S269-277 binary complex, and subsequently a ternary structure of the TRAV12+ TCR complexed to HLA-A2S269-277. We found that the TCR made extensive contacts along the entire length of the S269-277 peptide, suggesting that the TRAV12+ TCRs would be sensitive to sequence variation within this epitope. To examine this, we investigated cross-reactivity toward analogous peptides from existing SARS-CoV-2 variants and closely related coronaviruses. We show via surface plasmon resonance and tetramer studies that the TRAV12+ T cell repertoire cross-reacts poorly with these analogous epitopes. Overall, we defined the structural basis underpinning biased TCR recognition of CD8+ T cells directed at an immunodominant epitope and provide a framework for understanding TCR cross-reactivity toward viral variants within the S269-277 peptide.

Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/chemistry , HLA-A2 Antigen/metabolism , Immunodominant Epitopes/metabolism , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Humans , Protein Conformation , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/chemistry
Immunol Cell Biol ; 99(9): 990-1000, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1258941


In-depth understanding of human T-cell-mediated immunity in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is needed if we are to optimize vaccine strategies and immunotherapies. Identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) T-cell epitopes and generation of peptide-human leukocyte antigen (peptide-HLA) tetramers facilitate direct ex vivo analyses of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells and their T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoires. We utilized a combination of peptide prediction and in vitro peptide stimulation to validate novel SARS-CoV-2 epitopes restricted by HLA-A*24:02, one of the most prominent HLA class I alleles, especially in Indigenous and Asian populations. Of the peptides screened, three spike-derived peptides generated CD8+ IFNγ+ responses above background, S1208-1216 (QYIKWPWYI), S448-456 (NYNYLYRLF) and S193-201 (VFKNIDGYF), with S1208 generating immunodominant CD8+ IFNγ+ responses. Using peptide-HLA-I tetramers, we performed direct ex vivo tetramer enrichment for HLA-A*24:02-restricted CD8+ T cells in COVID-19 patients and prepandemic controls. The precursor frequencies for HLA-A*24:02-restricted epitopes were within the range previously observed for other SARS-CoV-2 epitopes for both COVID-19 patients and prepandemic individuals. Naïve A24/SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells increased nearly 7.5-fold above the average precursor frequency during COVID-19, gaining effector and memory phenotypes. Ex vivo single-cell analyses of TCRαß repertoires found that the A24/S448+ CD8+ T-cell TCRαß repertoire was driven by a common TCRß chain motif, whereas the A24/S1208+ CD8+ TCRαß repertoire was diverse across COVID-19 patients. Our study provides an in depth characterization and important insights into SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T-cell responses associated with a prominent HLA-A*24:02 allomorph. This contributes to our knowledge on adaptive immune responses during primary COVID-19 and could be exploited in vaccine or immunotherapeutic approaches.

CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 , HLA-A24 Antigen , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
Immunity ; 54(5): 1066-1082.e5, 2021 05 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1216346


To better understand primary and recall T cell responses during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is important to examine unmanipulated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific T cells. By using peptide-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tetramers for direct ex vivo analysis, we characterized CD8+ T cells specific for SARS-CoV-2 epitopes in COVID-19 patients and unexposed individuals. Unlike CD8+ T cells directed toward subdominant epitopes (B7/N257, A2/S269, and A24/S1,208) CD8+ T cells specific for the immunodominant B7/N105 epitope were detected at high frequencies in pre-pandemic samples and at increased frequencies during acute COVID-19 and convalescence. SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells in pre-pandemic samples from children, adults, and elderly individuals predominantly displayed a naive phenotype, indicating a lack of previous cross-reactive exposures. T cell receptor (TCR) analyses revealed diverse TCRαß repertoires and promiscuous αß-TCR pairing within B7/N105+CD8+ T cells. Our study demonstrates high naive precursor frequency and TCRαß diversity within immunodominant B7/N105-specific CD8+ T cells and provides insight into SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell origins and subsequent responses.

CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Immunodominant Epitopes/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , Amino Acid Motifs , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Child , Convalescence , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/chemistry , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunodominant Epitopes/chemistry , Male , Middle Aged , Phenotype , Phosphoproteins/chemistry , Phosphoproteins/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/chemistry , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/genetics , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta/chemistry , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta/genetics , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 117(39): 24384-24391, 2020 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-775833


An improved understanding of human T cell-mediated immunity in COVID-19 is important for optimizing therapeutic and vaccine strategies. Experience with influenza shows that infection primes CD8+ T cell memory to peptides presented by common HLA types like HLA-A2, which enhances recovery and diminishes clinical severity upon reinfection. Stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells from COVID-19 convalescent patients with overlapping peptides from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) led to the clonal expansion of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in vitro, with CD4+ T cells being robust. We identified two HLA-A*02:01-restricted SARS-CoV-2-specfic CD8+ T cell epitopes, A2/S269-277 and A2/Orf1ab3183-3191 Using peptide-HLA tetramer enrichment, direct ex vivo assessment of A2/S269+CD8+ and A2/Orf1ab3183+CD8+ populations indicated that A2/S269+CD8+ T cells were detected at comparable frequencies (∼1.3 × 10-5) in acute and convalescent HLA-A*02:01+ patients. These frequencies were higher than those found in uninfected HLA-A*02:01+ donors (∼2.5 × 10-6), but low when compared to frequencies for influenza-specific (A2/M158) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific (A2/BMLF1280) (∼1.38 × 10-4) populations. Phenotyping A2/S269+CD8+ T cells from COVID-19 convalescents ex vivo showed that A2/S269+CD8+ T cells were predominantly negative for CD38, HLA-DR, PD-1, and CD71 activation markers, although the majority of total CD8+ T cells expressed granzymes and/or perforin. Furthermore, the bias toward naïve, stem cell memory and central memory A2/S269+CD8+ T cells rather than effector memory populations suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infection may be compromising CD8+ T cell activation. Priming with appropriate vaccines may thus be beneficial for optimizing CD8+ T cell immunity in COVID-19.

Betacoronavirus/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , HLA-A2 Antigen/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19 , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte , Female , Humans , Immunologic Memory , Immunophenotyping , Leukocytes, Mononuclear/immunology , Lymphocyte Activation , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Peptide Fragments/chemistry , Peptide Fragments/immunology , Polyproteins , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Proteins/chemistry , Viral Proteins/immunology