In the present study, we examined the structural requirements of peptide Ags for productive interactions with the TCR of CTL. For this purpose, we used as a model a previously identified immunodominant epitope that represents the target of EBV-specific HLA-A11-restricted CTL responses. By the use of peptides having minimal sequence homology with the wild-type epitope, we demonstrated that it is possible to selectively expand and reactivate memory CTL precursors without triggering the lytic mechanisms of wild-type specific effectors. In fact, stimulation of PBL from EBV- seropositive donors by polyalanine analogues, sharing only the putative TCR contact residue with the natural epitope, exclusively induced clonal expansion and reactivation of EBV-specific memory CTL precursors. Interestingly, these polyalanine peptides failed to trigger the cytotoxic function of CTLs specific for the wild-type viral epitope. This clearly indicates that reactivation of memory CTL precursors and triggering of the cytotoxic function have different requirements. The same phenomenon was observed using as stimulators naturally occurring peptides carrying the appropriate TCR contact residue. These data strongly suggest that cross- reactive peptides may play an important role in the expansion and reactivation of CTL clones from the memory T cell pool, and may be involved in long-term maintenance of T cell memory.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 1 1999|
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