Competition for binding to MHC class II molecules between processed peptides derived from a single protein Ag is considered an important parameter leading to the presentation of a limited set of peptides by APCs. We tested the relevance of this competition process in a model Ag, the MalE protein, by deleting T cell epitopes or by introducing a competitor T cell peptide. We identified in DBA/1 (I-A(q)) mice six immunodominant T cell determinants in the MalE sequence, 89-95, 116-123, 198-205, 211-219, 274- 281, and 335-341. Synthetic peptides carrying these determinants were classified in three groups as weak, intermediate, or strong I-A(q) binders in competition experiments with the PreS:T peptide of hepatitis B surface Ag. In vivo, synthetic MalE peptides with weak and intermediate MHC binding capacity were inhibited their capacity to stimulate proliferative response in the presence of the PreS:T competitor peptide, whereas the strongest MHC binder was not. Strikingly, the insertion of the potent competitor PreS:T peptide into the MalE sequence, as a single copy or as four copies, did not inhibit the proliferative response to the six immunodominant peptides of the recipient protein. Moreover, deletion in the protein sequence disrupting either the weak (198-205) or strong (335-341) MHC binding determinant of MalE did not modify the proliferative response to the remaining T cell determinants as compared with wild-type MalE protein. Altogether, these results show that peptide competition for MHC binding may not represent the most important event in processes leading to immunodominance.
|Journal||The Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - 1998|