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J Immunol. 1992 Feb 1;148(3):738-45.

T cell activation-inducing epitopes of the house dust mite allergen Der p I. Proliferation and lymphokine production patterns by Der p I-specific CD4+ T cell clones.

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  • 1DNAX Research Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Palo Alto, CA 94304.


Cloned human CD4+ T cell lines specific for the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus were used to map minimal T cell activation-inducing epitopes on the Group I allergen in D. pteronyssinus extracts (Der p I) molecule. Most of these Der p I-specific T cell clones expressed different TCR V alpha and V beta gene products. Using recombinant deletion proteins, three T cell epitopes were identified on the Der p I molecule; p45-67 and p117-143 were recognized by HLA-DR7-restricted T cells, whereas p94-104 was recognized in the context of HLA-DR2, DRw11 (DR5), and -DR8 molecules. This degenerate class II MHC restriction appears to be due to shared Phe and Asp residues at positions 67 and 70, respectively, in the third variable domain of the HLA-DR beta chain. All three T cell epitopes induced Th2-like cytokine production profiles by the Der p I-specific T cell clones, which were characterized by the production of very high levels of IL-4 and IL-5, as compared with those secreted by tetanus toxin-specific T cell clones derived from the same patients, but no or low amounts of IL-2 and IFN-gamma. This Th2-like production profile was, however, not an intrinsic property of the Der p I-specific T cells, but was dependent upon their mode of activation. Stimulation with Con A also induced very low or no measurable levels of IL-2 and IFN-gamma, whereas activation with TPA and the calcium ionophore A23187 resulted in the production of high levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-2, and IFN-gamma. These results indicate that Der p I-specific T cell clones are not defective in their capacity to produce high levels of Th1 cytokines.

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