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Differential Processing of CD4 T-cell Epitopes from the Protective Antigen of Bacillus anthracis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julie Musson, Professor John Robinson


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We have mapped CD4+ T-cell epitopes located in three domains of the recombinant protective antigen of Bacillus anthracis. Mouse T-cell hybridomas specific for these epitopes were generated to study the mechanisms of proteolytic processing of recombinant protective antigen for antigen presentation by bone marrow-derived macrophages. Overall, epitopes differed considerably in their processing requirements. In particular, the kinetics of presentation, ranging from 15 (fast) to 120 min (slow), suggested sequential liberation of epitopes during proteolytic processing of the intact PA molecule. Pretreatment of macrophages with ammonium chloride or inhibitors of the major enzyme families showed that T-cell responses to an epitope presented with fast kinetics were unaffected by raising endosomal pH or inhibiting cysteine or aspartic proteinases, suggesting presentation independent of lysosomal processing. In contrast, responses to epitopes presented with slower kinetics were dependent on low pH and the activity of cysteine or aspartic proteinases indicating a requirement for lysosomal processing. In addition, responses to all epitopes, whether their presentation was dependent on low pH or not, were prevented by treatment of macrophages with broad spectrum serine proteinase inhibitors. Thus, our data are consistent with a model of sequential antigen processing within the endosomal system, beginning with a pre-processing step mediated by serine or metalloproteinases prior to further processing by lysosomal enzymes. Rapidly presented epitopes seemed to require only limited proteolysis at earlier stages of endocytosis, whereas the majority of epitopes required more extensive processing by neutral proteinases followed by lysosomal enzymes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Musson JA, Walker N, Flick-Smith H, Williamson ED, Robinson JH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2003

Volume: 278

Issue: 52

Pages: 52425-52431

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M309034200

PubMed id: 14561737


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