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Immunology. 1991 Sep;74(1):1-7.

Analysis of human T-cell epitopes in the 19,000 MW antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: influence of HLA-DR.

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MRC Tuberculosis and Related Infections Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, London, U.K.


The potential number of T-cell epitopes in the 19,000 molecular weight (MW) antigen has been investigated using overlapping peptides which comprise the complete sequence. Sixteen potential epitopes could be deduced from the responses to these peptides by polyclonal T cells derived from 22 antigen-responsive donors. The majority of epitopes were not predicted by either of the major paradigms, the Rothbard motif and the amphipathic helix. A hierarchy of epitopes was indicated by the responses, which ranged from strong and frequent in the N-terminal region, to moderate or weak elsewhere. Some epitopes were restricted by single HLA-DR determinants, or families of determinants sharing structural features in common, whilst the two N-terminal peptides were recognized by donors with a diversity of DR types. The high degree of T-cell recognition of the N-terminal region may be of relevance to the design of a sub-unit vaccine capable of priming T cells against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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