A Role for Intercellular Antigen Transfer in the Recognition of EBV-Transformed B Cell Lines by EBV Nuclear Antigen-Specific CD4+ T Cells

Taylor GS, Long HM, Haigh TA, Larsen M, Brooks J, Rickinson AB
Source: J Immunol
Publication Date: (2006)
Issue: 177(6): 3746-56
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
The CD4(+) T cell response to EBV may have an important role in controlling virus-driven B lymphoproliferation because CD4(+) T cell clones to a subset of EBV nuclear Ag (EBNA) epitopes can directly recognize virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) in vitro and inhibit their growth. In this study, we used a panel of EBNA1, 2, 3A, and 3C-specific CD4(+) T cell clones to study the route whereby endogenously expressed EBNAs access the HLA class II-presentation pathway. Two sets of results spoke against a direct route of intracellular access. First, none of the clones recognized cognate Ag overexpressed in cells from vaccinia vectors but did recognize Ag fused to an endo/lysosomal targeting sequence. Second, focusing on clones with the strongest LCL recognition that were specific for EBNA2- and EBNA3C-derived epitopes LCL recognition was unaffected by inhibiting autophagy, a postulated route for intracellular Ag delivery into the HLA class II pathway in LCL cells. Subsequently, using these same epitope-specific clones, we found that Ag-negative cells with the appropriate HLA-restricting allele could be efficiently sensitized to CD4(+) T cell recognition by cocultivation with Ag-positive donor lines or by exposure to donor line-conditioned culture medium. Sensitization was mediated by a high m.w. antigenic species and required active Ag processing by recipient cells. We infer that intercellular Ag transfer plays a major role in the presentation of EBNA-derived CD4 epitopes by latently infected target cells.