Generation of murine CTL by a hepatitis B virus-specific peptide and evaluation of the adjuvant effect of heat shock protein glycoprotein 96 and its terminal fragments.
Li H., Zhou M., Han J., Zhu X., Dong T., Gao GF., Tien P.
Previously, we reported that a 7-mer HLA-A11-restricted peptide (YVNTNMG) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) core Ag (HBcAg(88-94)) was associated with heat shock protein (HSP) gp96 in liver tissues of patients with HBV-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This peptide is highly homologous to a human HLA-A11-restricted 9-mer peptide (YVNVNMGLK) and to a mouse H-2-K(d)-restricted 9-mer peptide (SYVNTNMGL). To further characterize its immunogenicity, BALB/c mice were vaccinated with the HBV 7-mer peptide. It was found that a specific CTL response was induced by the 7-mer peptide, although the response was approximately 50% of that induced by the mouse H-2-K(d)-restricted 9-mer peptide, as detected by ELISPOT, tetramer, and (51)Cr release assays. To evaluate the adjuvant effect of HSP gp96, mice were coimmunized with gp96 and the 9-mer peptide, and a significant adjuvant effect was observed with gp96. To further determine whether the immune effect of gp96 was dependent on peptide binding, the N- and C-terminal fragments of gp96, which are believed to contain the putative peptide-binding domain, were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. CTL assays indicated that only the N-terminal fragment, but not the C-terminal fragment, was able to produce the adjuvant effect. These results clearly demonstrated the potential of using gp96 or its N-terminal fragment as a possible adjuvant to augment CTL response against HBV infection and HCC.