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Eur J Immunol. 2014 Jul;44(7):1981-91. doi: 10.1002/eji.201343933. Epub 2014 May 11.

Differential presentation of endogenous and exogenous hepatitis B surface antigens influences priming of CD8(+) T cells in an epitope-specific manner.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Little is known about whether presentation of endogenous and exogenous hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigens on APCs targeted by vaccination and/or virus-harboring hepatocytes influences de novo priming of CD8(+) T cells. We showed that surface antigen-expressing transfectants exclusively display a K(b) /S190 epitope, whereas cells pulsed with recombinant surface particles (rSPs) exclusively present a K(b) /S208 epitope to CD8(+) T cells. The differential presentation of these epitopes largely reflects the selective, but not exclusive, priming of K(b) /S190- and K(b) /S208-specific T cells in C57BL/6 mice by endogenous/DNA- or exogenous/protein-based vaccines, respectively. Silencing the K(b) /S190 epitope (K(b) /S190V194F ) in antigen-expressing vectors rescued the presentation of the K(b) /S208 epitope in stable transfectants and significantly enhanced priming of K(b) /S208-specific T cells in C57BL/6 mice. A K(b) /S190-mediated immunodominance operating in surface antigen-expressing cells, but not in rSP-pulsed cells, led to an efficient suppression in the presentation of the K(b) /S208 epitope and a consequent decrease in the priming of K(b) /S208-specific T cells. This K(b) /S190-mediated immunodominance also operated in 1.4HBV-S(mut) transgenic (tg) hepatocytes selectively expressing endogenous surface antigens and allowed priming of K(b) /S208- but not K(b) /S190-specific T cells in 1.4HBV-S(mut) tg mice. However, IFN-γ(+) K(b) /S208-specific T cells could not inhibit HBV replication in the liver of 1.4HBV-S(mut) tg mice. These results have practical implications for the design of T-cell-stimulating therapeutic vaccines.

© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


CD8+ T-cell-mediated immunodominance; Endogenous and exogenous antigens; Hepatitis B virus; Transgenic mice; Vaccination

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