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Immunogenicity and immunopathogenicity of an autoimmune epitope are potentiated by increasing MHC binding through residue substitution

, : Immunogenicity and immunopathogenicity of an autoimmune epitope are potentiated by increasing MHC binding through residue substitution. Journal of Immunology 158(9): 4145-4151

We have previously shown that in Lewis rats, peptide 273-283 (TWEGSGVLPCV) of rat interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) serves as a "surrogate" epitope for pathogenic lymphocytes sensitized against peptide 1181-1191 (SWEGVGVVPDV) of bovine IRBP. Yet, peptide 273-283 itself causes experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) only at 200 nmol/rat, whereas peptide 1181-1191 is pathogenic even at 0.2 nmol. This difference was attributed to the higher affinity of 1181-1191 to MHC molecules. Here we demonstrate that substitution of putative MHC binding-residues of peptide 273-283 with the corresponding ones of 1181-1191 results in increased binding to MHC and in remarkably elevated immunologic capacities. Analogs of 273-283 were synthesized, in which residues 277 and 282 were substituted with one or both the corresponding amino acids of peptide 1181-1191, V and D, respectively. The main findings were: 1) substitutions drastically increased MHC affinity, namely, 273-283(V277,D282) >> 273-283(D282) >>> 273-283; 2) the substituted analogs were much more immunogenic than the native peptide, inducing cellular responses at much lower doses; 3) the analogs were more antigenic in vitro than the native peptide; 4) the analogs were exceedingly pathogenic; peptide 273-283(V277,D282) caused disease even at 0.02 nmol/rat; and 5) the analogs were superior to the native peptide in their capacity to stimulate production of IFN-gamma by sensitized lymphocytes. Thus, enhancement of affinity of an autoimmune peptide for MHC molecules increases both immunogenicity and pathogenicity.


PMID: 9126974

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