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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
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