Interrogating the recognition landscape of a conserved HIV-specific TCR reveals distinct bacterial peptide cross-reactivity.
Mendoza JL., Fischer S., Gee MH., Lam LH., Brackenridge S., Powrie FM., Birnbaum M., McMichael AJ., Garcia KC., Gillespie GM.
T cell cross-reactivity ensures that diverse pathogen-derived epitopes encountered during a lifetime are recognized by the available TCR repertoire. A feature of cross-reactivity where previous exposure to one microbe can alter immunity to subsequent, non-related pathogens has been mainly explored for viruses. Yet cross-reactivity to additional microbes is important to consider, especially in HIV infection where gut-intestinal barrier dysfunction could facilitate T cell exposure to commensal/pathogenic microbes. Here we evaluated the cross-reactivity of a 'public', HIV-specific, CD8 T cell-derived TCR (AGA1 TCR) using MHC class I yeast display technology. Via screening of MHC-restricted libraries comprising ~2×108 sequence-diverse peptides, AGA1 TCR specificity was mapped to a central peptide di-motif. Using the top TCR-enriched library peptides to probe the non-redundant protein database, bacterial peptides that elicited functional responses by AGA1-expressing T cells were identified. The possibility that in context-specific settings, MHC class I proteins presenting microbial peptides influence virus-specific T cell populations in vivo is discussed.