The purpose of the present study is to perform a global screening for new immunogenic HLA class I (HLA-I) restricted cytotoxic T cell (CTL) epitopes of potential utility as candidates of influenza A-virus diagnostics and vaccines. We used predictions of antigen processing and presentation, the latter encompassing 12 different HLA class I supertypes with > 99% population coverage, and searched for conserved epitopes from available influenza A viral protein sequences. Peptides corresponding to 167 predicted peptide-HLA-1 interactions were synthesized, tested for peptide-HLA-1 interactions in a biochemical assay and for influenza-specific, HLA-1-restricted CTL responses in an IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay. Eighty-nine peptides could be confirmed as HLA-1 binders, and 13 could be confirmed as CTL targets. The 13 epitopes, are highly conserved among human influenza A pathogens, and all of these epitopes are present in the emerging bird flu isolates. Our study demonstrates that present technology enables a fast global screening for T cell immune epitopes of potential diagnostics and vaccine interest. This technology includes immuno-bioinformatics predictors with the capacity to perform fast genome-, pathogen-, and HLA-wide searches for immune targets. To exploit this new potential, a coordinated international effort to analyze the precious source of information represented by rare patients, such as the current victims of bird flu, would be essential.
- CTL epitope
- influenza A virus