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J Immunol. 2004 Aug 1;173(3):1757-62.

Antigen presentation to celiac lesion-derived T cells of a 33-mer gliadin peptide naturally formed by gastrointestinal digestion.

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Institute of Immunology, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Celiac disease is an HLA-DQ2-associated disorder characterized by intestinal T cell responses to ingested wheat gluten proteins. A peptide fragment of 33 residues (alpha(2)-gliadin 56-88) produced by normal gastrointestinal proteolysis contains six partly overlapping copies of three T cell epitopes and is a remarkably potent T cell stimulator after deamidation by tissue transglutaminase (TG2). This 33-mer is rich in proline residues and adopts the type II polyproline helical conformation in solution. In this study we report that after deamidation, the 33-mer bound with higher affinity to DQ2 compared with other monovalent peptides harboring gliadin epitopes. We found that the TG2-treated 33-mer was presented equally effectively by live and glutaraldehyde-fixed, EBV-transformed B cells. The TG2-treated 33-mer was also effectively presented by glutaraldehyde-fixed dendritic cells, albeit live dendritic cells were the most effective APCs. A strikingly increased T cell stimulatory potency of the 33-mer compared with a 12-mer peptide was also seen with fixed APCs. The 33-mer showed binding maximum to DQ2 at pH 6.3, higher than maxima found for other high affinity DQ2 binders. The 33-mer is thus a potent T cell stimulator that does not require further processing within APC for T cell presentation and that binds to DQ2 with a pH profile that promotes extracellular binding.

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