• Biophysical characterization of class II major histocompatibility complex (MHCII) molecules

      Osan, Jaspreet Kaur; Ferrante, Andrea; Kuhn, Thomas; Podlutsky, Andrej; Chen, Jack (2020-05)
      Class II Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHCII) molecules are transmembrane glycoproteins expressed on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APCs). APCs engulf pathogens and digest pathogenic proteins into peptides, which are loaded onto MHCII in the MHCII compartment (MIIC) to form peptide-MHCII complexes (pMHCII). These pMHCII are then presented to CD4+ T cells on the surface of APCs to trigger an antigen-specific immune response against the pathogens. HLA-DM (DM), a non-classical MHCII molecule, plays an essential role in generating kinetically stable pMHCII complexes which are presented to CD4+ T cells. When a few peptides among the pool of the peptide repertoire can generate the efficient CD4+ T cell response, such peptides are known as immunodominant. The selection of immunodominant epitopes is essential to generate effective vaccines against pathogens. The mechanism behind immunodominant epitope selection is not clearly understood. My work is focused on investigating various factors that help in the selection of immunodominant epitopes. For this purpose, peptides derived from H1N1 influenza hemagglutinin protein with known CD4+ T cell responses have been used. We investigated the role of DM-associated binding affinity in the selection of immunodominant epitopes. Our analysis showed that the presence of DM significantly reduces the binding affinity of the peptides with low CD4+ T cell response and inclusion of DM-associated IC50 in training MHCII algorithms may improve the binding prediction. Previous studies have shown that there is an alternate antigen presentation depending on antigen protein properties. Here, we showed that the immunodominant epitope presentation is dependent on the pH and length of the peptides. To study the MHCII in its native form, we assembled full-length MHCII in a known synthetic membrane model known as nanodiscs. We noted that, based on the lipid composition, assembly of the MHCII differs. Preliminary binding studies with this tool showed that there might be a difference in the binding based on the type of the nanodisc. Collectively, our results showed that the immunodominant epitope selection is a complex process that is driven by various biochemical features.