The cellular immune response to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is important in both protection and immunopathogenesis. In contrast to HLA class I, HLA class II-restricted RSV-specific T-cell epitopes have not been identified. Here, we describe the generation and characterization of two human RSV-specific CD4+-T-cell clones (TCCs) associated with type 0-like cytokine profiles. TCC 1 was specific for the matrix protein and restricted over HLA-DPB1*1601, while TCC 2 was specific for the attachment protein G and restricted over either HLA-DPBI*0401 or -0402. Interestingly, the latter epitope is conserved in both RSV type A and B viruses. Given the high allele frequencies of HLA-DPB1*0401 and -0402 worldwide, this epitope could be widely recognized and boosted by recurrent RSV infections. Indeed, peptide stimulation of peripheral blood mono-nuclear cells from healthy adults resulted in the detection of specific responses in 8 of 13 donors. Additional G-specific TCCs were generated from three of these cultures, which recognized the identical (n = 2) or almost identical (n = 1) HLA-DP4-restricted epitope as TCC 2. No significant differences were found between the capacities of cell lines obtained from infants with severe (n = 41) or mild (n = 46) RSV lower respiratory tract infections to function as antigen-presenting cells to the G-specific TCCs, suggesting that the severity of RSV disease is not linked to the allelic frequency of HLA-DP4. In conclusion, we have identified an RSV G-specific human T helper cell epitope restricted by the widely expressed HLA class II alleles DPB1*0401 and -0402. Its putative role in protection and/or immunopathogenesis remains to be determined.

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Journal Journal of Virology
de Waal, L, Yüksel, S, Brandenburg, A.H, Langedijk, J.P.M, Sintnicolaas, K, Verjans, G.M.G.M, … de Swart, R.L. (2004). Identification of a Common HLA-DP4-Restricted T-Cell Epitope in the Conserved Region of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus G Protein. Journal of Virology, 78(4), 1775–1781. doi:10.1128/JVI.78.4.1775-1781.2004