Human T-cell responses to vaccinia virus envelope proteins

Tang J, Murtadha M, Schnell M, Eisenlohr LC, Hooper J, Flomenberg P
Source: J Virol
Publication Date: (2006)
Issue: 80(20): 10010-20
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
Dendritic cell (NHDC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
One approach for a safer smallpox vaccine is to utilize recombinant subunits rather than live vaccinia virus (VACV). The products of the VACV envelope genes A27L, L1R, B5R, and A33R induce protective antibodies in animal models. We propose that proteins that elicit T-cell responses, as well as neutralizing antibodies, will be important to include in a molecular vaccine. To evaluate VACV-specific memory T-cell responses, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from four VACV vaccinees were tested against whole VACV and the individual envelope proteins A27, B5, L1, and A33, using gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot and cytokine flow cytometry assays. PBMC were stimulated with autologous dendritic cells infected with VACV or electroporated with individual VACV protein mRNAs. T-cell lines from all donors, vaccinated from 1 month to over 20 years ago, recognized all four VACV envelope proteins. Both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses to each protein were detected. Further analysis focused on representative proteins B5 and A27. PBMC from a recent vaccinee exhibited high frequencies of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell precursors to both B5 (19.8 and 20%, respectively) and A27 (6.8 and 3.7%). In comparison, B5- and A27-specific T-cell frequencies ranged from 0.4 to 1.3% in a donor vaccinated 3 years ago. Multiple CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell epitopes were identified from both A27 and B5, using overlapping 15-mer peptides. These data suggest that all four VACV envelope proteins may contribute to protective immunity, not only by inducing antibody responses, but also by eliciting T-cell responses.