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J Immunol. 1988 Mar 15;140(6):1808-15.

Recognition of hepatitis B surface antigen by human T lymphocytes. Proliferative and cytotoxic responses to a major antigenic determinant defined by synthetic peptides.

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  • 1Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, Philadelphia, PA 19104.


The antigenic sites for human T lymphocytes on hepatitis B surface Ag (HBsAg) were studied by using synthetic oligopeptides. T cell lines of the helper/inducer class, which were isolated from hepatitis B vaccine recipients, were found to react strongly and in an Ag-specific way with peptides corresponding to a sequence of 10 to 30 amino acids near the amino terminus of the HBsAg molecule. Cells with surface expression of the antigenic determinant contained in these synthetic peptides induced both proliferative and cytotoxic responses in the hepatitis B-specific T cells. The results indicate that amino acid residues 24-27 of HBsAg could be directly involved in this T cell determinant. Inhibition studies with mAb to MHC class II Ag and target cells from various HLA-typed individuals suggest that some T cell responses to this determinant of HBsAg might be restricted by the DPw4 molecule. However, the possibility exists that more than one of the MHC class II molecules could be involved as restricting elements of T cell responses to this synthetic peptide. In vivo experiments with synthetic peptides such as those described here are needed to demonstrate the possibility of enhancing HBsAg immune responses in some individuals.

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