Human infections by type B influenza virus constitute about 25% of all influenza cases. The viral hemagglutinin is comprised of two subunits, HA1 and HA2. While HA1 is constantly evolving in an unpredictable fashion, the HA2 subunit is highly conserved, making it a potential candidate for a universal vaccine. However, immunodominant epitopes in the HA2 subunit remain largely unknown. To delineate MHC Class I epitopes, we first identified 9-mer H-2Kd-restricted CD8 T cell epitopes in the HA2 domain by in silico analyses, followed by evaluating the immunodominance of these peptides in mice challenged with the virus. Of three peptides selected through in silico analysis, the universally conserved peptide, YYSTAASSL (B/HA2-190), possessed the highest predicted binding affinity to MHC Class I and was most effective in inducing IL-2 and TNF-α in mouse splenocytes. Importantly, the peptide demonstrated best capability of stimulating peptide-specific ex-vivo cytotoxicity against target cells. Taken together, this finding would be of value for assessment of cell-mediated immune responses elicited by vaccines based on the highly conserved HA2 stalk domain.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications – Elsevier
Published: Jul 12, 2018
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