Memory T cells cross-reactive with epitopes encoded by related or even unrelated viruses may alter the immune response and pathogenesis of infection by a process known as heterologous immunity. Because a challenge virus epitope may react with only a subset of the T cell repertoire in a cross-reactive epitope-specific memory pool, the vigorous cross-reactive response may be narrowly focused, or oligoclonal. We show in this article, by examining human T cell cross-reactivity between the HLA-A2-restricted influenza Avirus-encoded M158-66 epitope (GILGFVFTL) and the dissimilar Epstein-Barr virus-encoded BMLF1280-288 epitope (GLCTLVAML), that, under some conditions, heterologous immunity can lead to a significant broadening, rather than a narrowing, of the TCR repertoire. We suggest that dissimilar cross-reactive epitopes might generate a broad, rather than a narrow, T cell repertoire if there is a lack of dominant high-affinity clones; this hypothesis is supported by computer simulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas