Immuno-proteomic interrogation of dengue infection reveals novel HLA haplotype-specific MHC-I antigens


Kavya Swaminathan, Niclas Olsson, Peder J Lund, Caleb D Marceau, Lisa E Wagar, Yuan Tian, John Sidney, Daniela Weiskopf, Karim Majzoub, Aruna D de Silva, Eva Harris, Mark M Davis, Alessandro Sette, Jan E Carette, Joshua E Elias




Broadly effective vaccines against dengue virus (DENV) infection have remained elusive, despite rising infection rates in the developing world. Infection-specific peptide ligands presented on Major Histocompatibility Complexes (MHC) open new avenues for developing T-cell-based interventions. Past efforts towards mapping viral MHC epitopes were based on computational predictions that only partially reflected actual antigen presentation. To empirically identify DENV-specific MHC ligands, we developed an immuno-proteomics approach for interrogating DENV- and self-derived MHC ligands from infected B-lymphocytes. Here, we report four fundamental findings: First, over 700 infection-specific MHC-ligands reflected host cellular responses to DENV that were not apparent from the proteome. Second, we report 121 viral MHC-I ligands (108 novel) which clustered into discrete hotspots across the DENV polyprotein, some of which spanned DENV polyprotein components, described here as MHC ligands for the first time. Third, we found DENV ligands which were distinctly presented by MHC alleles previously associated with either high or low anti-DENV response. Fourth, we demonstrate that while our in vitro assay only overlapped with a small fraction of previously described DENV T-cell epitopes, several novel MHC ligands identified here were recognized by T-cells from DENV-infected patients despite having low binding affinities. Together, these discoveries suggest that virus and host-derived MHC ligands have under-exploited potential for describing the cell biology of DENV infection, and as candidates for designing effective DENV vaccines.

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