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J Clin Immunol. 2012 Dec;32(6):1305-16. doi: 10.1007/s10875-012-9732-x. Epub 2012 Jul 15.

HLA-DR and HLA-DP restricted epitopes from human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein B recognized by CD4+ T-cell clones from chronically infected individuals.

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  • 1Discovery Department, Sanofi Pasteur, 1541 Avenue Marcel Mérieux, 69280 Marcy l’Etoile, France.



Helper CD4(+) T cells presumably play a major role in controlling cytomegalovirus (CMV) by providing help to specific B and CD8(+) cytotoxic T cells, as well as through cytotoxicity-mediated mechanisms. Since CMV glycoprotein B (gB) is a major candidate for a subunit vaccine against CMV, we searched for gB-epitopes presented by human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-class II molecules.


Dendritic cells obtained from CMV-seropositive donors were loaded with a recombinant gB and co-cultured with autologous CD4(+) T cells. Microcultures that specifically recognized gB were cloned by limiting dilution using autologous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-immortalized B cells pulsed with gB as antigen-presenting cells. To pinpoint precisely the region encoding the natural epitope recognized by a given CD4(+) clone, we assessed the recognition of recombinant Escherichia coli expressing gB-overlapping polypeptides after their processing by autologous EBV-B cells.


We isolated several gB-specific CD4(+) T-cell clones directed against peptides gB(190-204), gB(396-410), gB(22-36) and gB(598-617) presented by HLA-DR7, HLA-DP10 and HLA-DP2. While their precise role in controlling CMV infection remains to be established, gB-specific CD4(+) T cells are likely to act by directly targeting infected HLA-class II cells in vivo, as suggested by their recognition of EBV-B cells infected by the Towne CMV strain.


The characterization of such gB-epitopes presented by HLA-class II should help to understand the contribution of CD4(+) T-cell responses to CMV and may be of importance both in designing a vaccine against CMV infection and in immunomonitoring of subjects immunized with recombinant gB or with vectors encoding gB.

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