Secreted antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) induce strong T cell responses and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) secretion, both of which are integral in the defense against Mtb. We used web-based tools (SignaIP and Prosite) to identify putative secreted proteins from Mtb genomes CDC 1551 and H37Rv. We then used EpiMatrix, a proprietary pattern-matching algorithm, to do a preliminary analysis of these proteins for regions that contained a high number of class II MHC binding motif matches. The use of bioinformatics tools reduced the number of potential epitopes to be screened to 5% of the 1.3 million overlapping peptides. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained from healthy, asymptomatic tuberculin skin test-positive donors. Of the 17 highest-ranking peptide candidates that could be synthesized for this preliminary in vitro evaluation, 15 (88%) stimulated IFN-γ response, and eight (47%) stimulated lymphocyte proliferation in vitro. IFN-γ ELISpot assays were therefore a more sensitive test for T cell response to these peptides than were proliferation assays. One highly promiscuous epitope (MT2281-26-J, WRRRPLSSALLSFGLLLGGLPL) induced IFN-γ secretion in PBMC from 11 of 25 Mtb immune subjects (44%). Overall, 15 epitopes, and MT2281-26-J in particular, are candidates for inclusion in a multi-epitope TB vaccine. These findings support the systematic application of bioinformatics tools to whole genomes when used in combination with in vitro methods for screening and confirming epitopes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- T cell epitope