Author(s): E Celis, R W Karr, B Dietzschold, W H Wunner, H Koprowski
Rabies virus-specific T cell clones isolated from a human vaccine recipient were studied for their fine specificity and genetic restriction using synthetic peptides of the viral Ag and mouse fibroblasts transfected with human MHC genes. Two clones were found to react with an epitope present in the rabies glycoprotein, which was presented by the HLA-DR7 molecule. Other T cell clones recognized synthetic epitopes corresponding to the rabies nucleoprotein in association with the HLA-DR7 or HLA-DQw3 molecule, and one clone responded to the viral nucleocapsid Ag in the presence of HLA-DPw4. T cell clones that exhibited different cross-reactivity patterns among several virus strains were found to recognize closely situated epitopes (within 15 amino acid residues), which were presented in the context of the same MHC molecule. The lack of recognition of a particular virus strain by a T cell clone was attributable in some cases to amino acid variations of the Ag that appear to affect the T cell's receptor for Ag specificity and not the ability of that epitope to associate with the corresponding MHC molecule. Comparisons of the T cell cross-reactivity patterns with various rabies and rabies-related viruses, the fine antigenic specificity, and MHC restriction may aid in understanding the role of individual amino acid variations among virus strains in the induction of cross-protective immunity.