Immunodominance of cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes co-injected in vivo and modulation by interleukin-12.
Eberl G., Kessler B., Eberl LP., Brunda MJ., Valmori D., Corradin G.
Immunodominance (ID) of T cell epitopes is a well-documented phenomenon that might have profound significance in the evolution of T cell responses to pathogens, tumors, autoantigens and vaccines. With the intention of developing vaccines composed of several cytotoxic T cell (CTL) epitopes, we injected mice with peptide mixtures containing two to five CTL epitopes and observed clear patterns of ID. In a first case, ID strictly correlated with the competitor activity of the individual peptides for H-2Kd, whereas in a second case, the absence of correlation between ID and competitor activity, binding affinity, half-life of the peptides in serum, induction of proliferation in vitro and the individual immunogenicity of the peptides, suggested to us that ID of co-injected CTL epitopes can be determined both at the peptide level (binding affinity to H-2Kd) and at the T cell level. This hypothesis is supported by our finding that interleukin-12 strongly modulates ID when it is not correlated with MHC binding.