A trans-acting regulatory gene product p40(tax) (Tax) of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-I) is one of the main target antigens recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for HTLV-I. A CTL epitope within the Tax protein was identified in this report. HTLV-I-specific CD8+ CTL lines established from two HTLV-I carriers with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy or Sjogren syndrome were previously demonstrated to kill predominantly the target cells expressing HTLV-1 Tax. The CTL from two patients showed significant levels of cytotoxicity to autologous target cells pulsed with a synthetic peptide of 24 amino acids corresponding to the amino-terminal sequences of the Tax protein. Allogeneic target cells were also sensitized for CTL by this peptide when the target cells have HLA-A2. Tax-specific cytotoxicity, detected as cytolysis of the target cells infected with vaccinia virus-HTLV-I recombinant expressing Tax protein, was almost completely inhibited by competitor cells pulsed with the synthetic peptide. This indicates that a major CTL epitope is present in this peptide. Further analysis using shorter peptides revealed that the core sequence of the CTL epitope was LLFGYPVYV at positions 11 through 19. This sequence can be aligned with the HLA-A2-specific motifs reported recently.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science