Multiple sclerosis (MS), a human demyelinating disease, is thought to be caused by an autoimmunologic process, and myelin basic protein (MBP) is considered a likely autoantigen. Studies of T cell lines (TCL) responding to different parts of the MBP molecule have indicated that amino acids 87 through 106 contain an immunodominant epitope of MBP. We have demonstrated previously that amino acids 89 through 99 represent the core of this 87-106 peptide epitope. Importantly, this epitope is not only encephalitogenic in SJL/J mice and Lewis rats but also has been shown to be recognized by human cytotoxic TCL in the context of four HLA-DR molecules that are associated with MS in different geographic areas. If the immune response to MBP peptide 87-106 was homogeneous with respect to epitope specificity and TCR usage, specific immunotherapies targeting the interaction of peptide, MHC, and TCR might be possible. In this study, the fine specificity of 29 CD4+ cytotoxic, long term, and limiting dilution TCL that had been generated against whole MBP and were derived from four MS patients and two healthy relatives was dissected using truncated and alanine-substituted peptides for the 87-106 peptide. In addition, the TCR α and β chain usage of 15 CD4+ TCL was determined. Using truncated peptides, the presence of several nested immunogenic epitopes within amino acids 87 to 106 was demonstrated. TCL with identical restriction elements and similar responses to truncated peptides could be differentiated further using alanine-substituted peptides. Finally, heterogeneity of TCR usage was shown not only for those lines that differed in their peptide specificity but also for some that showed identical responses and were restricted by the same HLA-DR antigen. In conclusion, the CD4+ cytotoxic T cell response to the immunodommant MBP peptide 87-106 demonstrates a high degree of heterogeneity at the level of fine specificity and TCR usage. These findings indicate that specific immunotherapies aimed at TCR in MS will probably be more complicated than previously anticipated.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 1 1992|
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