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Hum Immunol. 2010 May;71(5):468-74. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2010.02.014. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Identification of broad binding class I HLA supertype epitopes to provide universal coverage of influenza A virus.

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Pharmexa-Epimmune Inc., San Diego, California, USA.


Influenza virus remains a significant health concern, with current circulating strains that affect millions each year plus the threat of newly emerging strains, such as swine-origin H1N1 and avian H5N1. Our hypothesis is that influenza-derived HLA-class I-restricted epitopes can be identified for use as a reagent to monitor and quantitate human CD8(+) T-cell responses and for vaccine development to induce protective cellular immunity. Protein sequences from influenza A virus strains currently in circulation, agents of past pandemics and zoonotic infections of man were evaluated for sequences predicted to bind to alleles representative of the most frequent HLA-A and -B (class I) types worldwide. Peptides that bound several different HLA molecules and were conserved among diverse influenza subtypes were tested for their capacity to recall influenza-specific immune responses using human donor PBMC. Accordingly, 28 different epitopes antigenic for human donor PBMC were identified and 25 were 100% conserved in the newly emerged swine-origin H1N1 strain. The epitope set defined herein should provide a reagent applicable to quantitate CD8(+) T cell human responses irrespective of influenza subtype and HLA composition of the responding population. In addition, these epitopes may be suitable for vaccine applications directed at the induction of cellular immunity.

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