Exploring the pre-immune landscape of antigen-specific T cells

Mikhail V. Pogorelyy, Alla D. Fedorova, James E. McLaren, Kristin Ladell, Dmitri V. Bagaev, Alexey V. Eliseev, Artem I. Mikelov, Anna E. Koneva, Ivan V. Zvyagin, David A. Price, Dmitry M. Chudakov, Mikhail Shugay

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Adaptive immune responses to newly encountered pathogens depend on the mobilization of antigen-specific clonotypes from a vastly diverse pool of naive T cells. Using recent advances in immune repertoire sequencing technologies, models of the immune receptor rearrangement process, and a database of annotated T cell receptor (TCR) sequences with known specificities, we explored the baseline frequencies of T cells specific for defined human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I-restricted epitopes in healthy individuals. Methods: We used a database of TCR sequences with known antigen specificities and a probabilistic TCR rearrangement model to estimate the baseline frequencies of TCRs specific to distinct antigens epitopespecificT-cells. We verified our estimates using a publicly available collection of TCR repertoires from healthy individuals. We also interrogated a database of immunogenic and non-immunogenic peptides is used to link baseline T-cell frequencies with epitope immunogenicity. Results: Our findings revealed a high degree of variability in the prevalence of T cells specific for different antigens that could be explained by the physicochemical properties of the corresponding HLA class I-bound peptides. The occurrence of certain rearrangements was influenced by ancestry and HLA class I restriction, and umbilical cord blood samples contained higher frequencies of common pathogen-specific TCRs. We also identified a quantitative link between specific T cell frequencies and the immunogenicity of cognate epitopes presented by defined HLA class I molecules. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the population frequencies of specific T cells are strikingly non-uniform across epitopes that are known to elicit immune responses. This inference leads to a new definition of epitope immunogenicity based on specific TCR frequencies, which can be estimated with a high degree of accuracy in silico, thereby providing a novel framework to integrate computational and experimental genomics with basic and translational research efforts in the field of T cell immunology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number68
    JournalGenome Medicine
    Volume10
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2018

    Keywords

    • Antigen
    • Immune repertoire
    • Immunogenicity
    • T cell receptor

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