US20080260762A1 - HLA binding motifs and peptides and their uses - Google Patents

HLA binding motifs and peptides and their uses Download PDF

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US20080260762A1
US20080260762A1 US11978519 US97851907A US2008260762A1 US 20080260762 A1 US20080260762 A1 US 20080260762A1 US 11978519 US11978519 US 11978519 US 97851907 A US97851907 A US 97851907A US 2008260762 A1 US2008260762 A1 US 2008260762A1
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peptide
peptides
hla
binding
residue
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US11978519
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Howard M. Grey
Alessandro Sette
John Sidney
Scott Southwood
Ralph T. Kubo
Esteban Celis
Robert Chesnut
W. Martin Kast
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OSE PHARMA INTERNATIONAL SA
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Grey Howard M
Alessandro Sette
John Sidney
Scott Southwood
Kubo Ralph T
Esteban Celis
Robert Chesnut
Kast W Martin
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K38/00Medicinal preparations containing peptides
    • A61K38/04Peptides having up to 20 amino acids in a fully defined sequence; Derivatives thereof
    • A61K38/10Peptides having 12 to 20 amino acids
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K39/0005Vertebrate antigens
    • A61K39/0011Cancer antigens
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K39/02Bacterial antigens
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K39/12Viral antigens
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K39/12Viral antigens
    • A61K39/145Orthomyxoviridae, e.g. influenza virus
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07KPEPTIDES
    • C07K14/00Peptides having more than 20 amino acids; Gastrins; Somatostatins; Melanotropins; Derivatives thereof
    • C07K14/435Peptides having more than 20 amino acids; Gastrins; Somatostatins; Melanotropins; Derivatives thereof from animals; from humans
    • C07K14/705Receptors; Cell surface antigens; Cell surface determinants
    • C07K14/70503Immunoglobulin superfamily
    • C07K14/70539MHC-molecules, e.g. HLA-molecules
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07KPEPTIDES
    • C07K7/00Peptides having 5 to 20 amino acids in a fully defined sequence; Derivatives thereof
    • C07K7/04Linear peptides containing only normal peptide links
    • C07K7/06Linear peptides containing only normal peptide links having 5 to 11 amino acids
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K2039/51Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies comprising whole cells, viruses or DNA/RNA
    • A61K2039/515Animal cells
    • A61K2039/5158Antigen-pulsed cells, e.g. T-cells
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K2039/555Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies characterised by a specific combination antigen/adjuvant
    • A61K2039/55511Organic adjuvants
    • A61K2039/55516Proteins; Peptides
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K2039/555Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies characterised by a specific combination antigen/adjuvant
    • A61K2039/55511Organic adjuvants
    • A61K2039/55566Emulsions, e.g. Freund's adjuvant, MF59
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61KPREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
    • A61K39/00Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies
    • A61K2039/57Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies characterised by the type of response, e.g. Th1, Th2
    • A61K2039/572Medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies characterised by the type of response, e.g. Th1, Th2 cytotoxic response
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    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
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    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07KPEPTIDES
    • C07K2319/00Fusion polypeptide
    • C07K2319/01Fusion polypeptide containing a localisation/targetting motif
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07KPEPTIDES
    • C07K2319/00Fusion polypeptide
    • C07K2319/33Fusion polypeptide fusions for targeting to specific cell types, e.g. tissue specific targeting, targeting of a bacterial subspecies
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C07ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
    • C07KPEPTIDES
    • C07K2319/00Fusion polypeptide
    • C07K2319/40Fusion polypeptide containing a tag for immunodetection, or an epitope for immunisation
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    • C12N2730/10011Hepadnaviridae
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    • C12N2740/10011Retroviridae
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    • C12N2770/00011MICROORGANISMS OR ENZYMES; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF; PROPAGATING, PRESERVING OR MAINTAINING MICROORGANISMS; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING; CULTURE MEDIA ssRNA Viruses positive-sense ssRNA Viruses positive-sense
    • C12N2770/24011Flaviviridae
    • C12N2770/24211Hepacivirus, e.g. hepatitis C virus, hepatitis G virus
    • C12N2770/24234Use of virus or viral component as vaccine, e.g. live-attenuated or inactivated virus, VLP, viral protein

Abstract

The present invention provides the means and methods for selecting immunogenic peptides and the immunogenic peptide compositions capable of specifically binding glycoproteins encoded by HLA alleles and inducing T cell activation in T cells restricted by the allele. The peptides are useful to elicit an immune response against a desired antigen.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application is divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/817,970, filed Apr. 6, 2004, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739, filed Mar. 20, 1997; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/013,833, filed Mar. 21, 1996; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/589,107, filed Jan. 23, 1996, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/451,913, filed May 26, 1995, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/186,266, filed Jan. 25, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,662,907; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,339, filed Nov. 29, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,037,135; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/103,396, filed Aug. 6, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,746, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/926,666, filed Aug. 7, 1992, abandoned;
  • said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/347,610, filed Dec. 1, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,339, filed Nov. 29, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,037,135; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/103,396, filed Aug. 6, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,746, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/926,666, filed Aug. 7, 1992, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/665,510, filed Sep. 19, 2000; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/347,610, filed Dec. 1, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,339, filed Nov. 29, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,037,135; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/103,396, filed Aug. 6, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,746, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/926,666, filed Aug. 7, 1992, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,524, filed Feb. 3, 1998; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/589,107, filed Jan. 23, 1996, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,524 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/758,409, filed Nov. 27, 1996, abandoned;
    said Ser. No. 09/017,524 application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739, filed Mar. 20, 1997; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/013,833, filed Mar. 21, 1996; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/589,107, filed Jan. 23, 1996, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/451,913, filed May 26, 1995, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/347,610, filed Dec. 1, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,339, filed Nov. 29, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,037,135; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/103,396, filed Aug. 6, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,746, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/926,666, filed Aug. 7, 1992, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 08/821,739 is also is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/186,266, filed Jan. 25, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,662,907; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,339, filed Nov. 29, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,037,135; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/103,396, filed Aug. 6, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,746, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/926,666, filed Aug. 7, 1992, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735, filed Feb. 3, 1998; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/205,713, filed Mar. 4, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,184, filed Nov. 29, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/073,205, filed Jun. 4, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,146, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/589,108, filed Jan. 23, 1996, abandoned; said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 is also a continuation-in-part of pending U.S. application Ser. No. 08/454,033, filed May 26, 1995; said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/349,177, filed Dec. 2, 1994, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,184, filed Nov. 29, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/073,205, abandoned, filed Jun. 4, 1993; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,146, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned;
    said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/822,382, filed Mar. 20, 1997, abandoned; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/013,980, filed Mar. 21, 1996;
    said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/753,622, filed Nov. 27, 1996, abandoned;
    said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,735 application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/205,713, filed Mar. 4, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,184, filed Nov. 29, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/073,205, filed Jun. 4, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,146, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of pending U.S. application Ser. No. 08/454,033, filed May 26, 1995; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/349,177, filed Dec. 2, 1994, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/159,184, filed Nov. 29, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/073,205, filed Jun. 4, 1993, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/027,146, filed Mar. 5, 1993, abandoned; the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/017,743, filed Feb. 3, 1998; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/753,615, filed Nov. 27, 1996, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/590,298, filed Jan. 23, 1996, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/452,843, filed May 30, 1995; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/344,824, filed Nov. 23, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/278,634, filed Jul. 21, 1994, abandoned; said Ser. No. 09/017,743 is also a continuation-in-part of said application Ser. No. 08/344,824, filed Nov. 23, 1994; and a continuation-in-part of said application Ser. No. 08/452,843, filed May 30, 1995;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/452,843, filed May 30, 1995; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/344,824, filed Nov. 23, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/278,634, filed Jul. 21, 1994, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/344,824, filed Nov. 23, 1994; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/278,634, filed Jul. 21, 1994, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/226,775, filed Jan. 6, 1999; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/815,396, filed Mar. 10, 1997, abandoned; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/013,113, filed Mar. 11, 1996; U.S. application Ser. No. 09/226,775 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/485,218, filed Jun. 7, 1995, abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/305,871, filed Sep. 14, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,142; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/121,101, filed Sep. 14, 1993, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/030,014, which is the national stage of International Appl. No. PCT/US00/17842, filed Jun. 28, 2000; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/141,422, filed Jun. 29, 1999;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/121,415, filed Apr. 11, 2002; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/189,702, filed Nov. 10, 1998; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/098,584, filed Jun. 17, 1998, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of International Appl. No. PCT/US03/31308, filed Oct. 3, 2003; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/416,207, filed Oct. 3, 2002; said International Appl. No. PCT/US03/31308 also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/417,269, filed Oct. 8, 2002;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/260,714, filed Mar. 1, 1999, abandoned;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/470,364, which is the national stage of International Appl. No. PCT/US02/02708, filed Jan. 29, 2002; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/935,476, filed Aug. 22, 2001, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/264,969, filed Jan. 29, 2001; said U.S. application Ser. No. 09/935,476 is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/346,105, filed Jun. 30, 1999;
    the present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/469,201, which is the national stage of International Appl. No. PCT/US01/51650, filed Oct. 18, 2001; which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/285,624, filed Apr. 20, 2001; said International Appl. No. PCT/US01/51650 also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Appl. No. 60/242,350, filed Oct. 19, 2000.
  • The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/205,713 filed Mar. 4, 1994. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,735, U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,622, U.S. Ser. No. 08/822,382, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,980, U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,108, U.S. Ser. No. 08/454,033, U.S. Ser. No. 08/349,177, U.S. Ser. No. 08/073,205, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,146. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,524, U.S. Ser. No. 08/821,739, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,833, U.S. Ser. No. 08/758,409, U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,107, U.S. Ser. No. 08/451,913 and to U.S. Ser. No. 08/347,610, U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,266, U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,339, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,061, U.S. Ser. No. 08/103,396, U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,746, and U.S. Ser. No. 07/926,666. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,743; U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,615; U.S. Ser. No. 08/590,298; U.S. Ser. No. 08/452,843; U.S. Ser. No. 09/115,400; U.S. Ser. No. 08/344,824; and U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 08/197,484 and U.S. Ser. No. 08/815,396. All of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference.
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of application U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634 filed Jul. 21, 1994, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of application U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634 filed Jul. 21, 1994, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/346,105, entitled “Consistent Immune Responses in Diverse Genetic Populations,” filed 30 Jun. 1999, Sidney et al. This application also claims the benefit of the 29 Jan. 2001 filing date of U.S. Application Ser. No. 60/264,969, entitled “Subunit Vaccines with A2 Supermotifs,” Sidney, et al., each of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • The present application is related to U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,108, filed Jan. 23, 1996 and now abandoned, and to U.S. Ser. No. 08/205,713 filed Mar. 4, 1994, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,184, filed Nov. 29, 1993 and now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/073,205 filed Jun. 4, 1993 and now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,146 filed Mar. 5, 1993 and now abandoned. The application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,980 filed Mar. 21, 1996 and now abandoned, U.S. Ser. No. 08/454,033 filed May 26, 1995, U.S. Ser. No. 08/349,177 filed Dec. 2, 1994, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,622 filed Jan. 27, 1996 and now abandoned. Each of the above-referenced applications is incorporated herein by reference.
  • This application is a Continuation in Part (“CIP”) of U.S. Ser. No. 08/815,396, filed Mar. 10, 1997, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,113, filed Mar. 11, 1996; and is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/485,218 filed Jun. 7, 1995, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/305,871 filed Sep. 14, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,142 issued Apr. 7, 1998, which is a CIP of abandoned application U.S. Ser. No. 08/121,101 filed Sep. 14, 1993. The present application is related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,735, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,108; U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,622, U.S. Ser. No. 08/822,382, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,980, U.S. Ser. No. 08/454,033, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,424, U.S. Ser. No. 08/205,713, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/349,177, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,184, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/073,205, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,146. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,524, U.S. Ser. No. 08/821,739, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,833, U.S. Ser. No. 08/758,409, U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,107, U.S. Ser. No. 08/451,913, U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,266, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,061, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/347,610, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,339, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/103,396, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,746, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 07/926,666. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,743, U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,615; U.S. Ser. No. 08/590,298, U.S. Ser. No. 09/115,400, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/452,843, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/344,824, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 60/087,192 and U.S. Ser. No. 09/009,953, which is a CIP of 60/036,713 and 60/037,432. All of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference.
  • The present application is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,184, which is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/073,205, which is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,146, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • To identify peptides of the invention, MHC-peptide complex isolation, and isolation and sequencing of naturally processed peptides was carried out as described in the related applications. This application may be relevant to U.S. Ser. No. 09/189,702 filed Nov. 10, 1998, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/205,713 filed Mar. 4, 1994, which is a CIP of Ser. No. 08/159,184 filed Nov. 29, 1993 and now abandoned, which is a CIP of Ser. No. 08/073,205 filed Jun. 4, 1993 and now abandoned, which is a CIP of Ser. No. 08/027,146 filed Mar. 5, 1993 and now abandoned. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/226,775, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/815,396, which claims the benefit of U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,113, now abandoned. Furthermore, the present application is related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,735, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,108; U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,622, U.S. Ser. No. 08/822,382, abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,980, U.S. Ser. No. 08/454,033, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,424, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/349,177. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,524, U.S. Ser. No. 08/821,739, abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,833, U.S. Ser. No. 08/758,409, U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,107, U.S. Ser. No. 08/451,913, U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,266, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,061, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/347,610, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,339, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/103,396, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,746, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 07/926,666. The present application may also be relevant to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,743, U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,615; U.S. Ser. No. 08/590,298, U.S. Ser. No. 09/115,400, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/452,843, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/344,824, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634. The present application may also be related to provisional U.S. Ser. No. 60/087,192 and U.S. Ser. No. 09/009,953, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 60/036,713 and abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 60/037,432. In addition, the present application may be relevant to U.S. Ser. No. 09/098,584, and U.S. Ser. No. 09/239,043. The present application may also be relevant to co-pending U.S. Ser. No. 09/583,200 filed May 30, 2000, U.S. Ser. No. 09/260,714 filed Mar. 1, 1999, and U.S. Provisional Application “Heteroclitic Analogs And Related Methods”, Attorney Docket Number 018623-015810US filed Oct. 6, 2000. All of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference.
  • The present application is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,339, which is continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/103,396 which is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,746 which is a continuation in part of U.S. Ser. No. 07/926,666. It is related to U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,266. The application of supermotifs and motifs and binding analysis to the identification of epitopes is described in WO01/21189 and co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 09/239,043, filed Jan. 27, 1999; Ser. No. 09/350,401, filed Jul. 8, 1999; Ser. No. 09/412,863 filed Oct. 5, 1999; Ser. No. 09/390,061 filed Sep. 3, 1999; Ser. No. 09/458,302 filed Dec. 10, 1999; Ser. No. 09,458,297 filed Dec. 10, 1999; Ser. No. 09/458,298 filed Dec. 10, 1999, Ser. No. 09/633,364 filed Aug. 7, 2000; Ser. No. 09/458,299 filed Dec. 10, 1999; and Ser. No. 09/641,528 filed Aug. 15, 2000.
  • This application is a Continuation in Part (“CIP”) of U.S. Ser. No. 08/815,396, filed Mar. 10, 1997, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,113, filed Mar. 11, 1996; and is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/485,218 filed Jun. 7, 1995, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/305,871 filed Sep. 14, 1994, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,142 issued Apr. 7, 1998, which is a CIP of abandoned application U.S. Ser. No. 08/121,101 filed Sep. 14, 1993. The present application is related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,735, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,108; U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,622, U.S. Ser. No. 08/822,382, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,980, U.S. Ser. No. 08/454,033, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,424, U.S. Ser. No. 08/205,713, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/349,177, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,184, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/073,205, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,146. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,524, U.S. Ser. No. 08/821,739, U.S. Ser. No. 60/013,833, U.S. Ser. No. 08/758,409, U.S. Ser. No. 08/589,107, U.S. Ser. No. 08/451,913, U.S. Ser. No. 08/186,266, U.S. Ser. No. 09/116,061, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/347,610, which is a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/159,339, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/103,396, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/027,746, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 07/926,666. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 09/017,743, U.S. Ser. No. 08/753,615; U.S. Ser. No. 08/590,298, U.S. Ser. No. 09/115,400, and U.S. Ser. No. 08/452,843, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/344,824, which is a CIP of abandoned U.S. Ser. No. 08/278,634. The present application is also related to U.S. Ser. No. 60/087,192 and U.S. Ser. No. 09/009,953, which is a CIP of 60/036,713 and 60/037,432.
  • All of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference. These applications are referred to herein as the “parent applications”.
  • FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
  • The Sequence Listing written in file “Sequence Listing.txt,” 2.9 megabytes, created on Jan. 24, 2005 on two identical copies of compact discs for application Ser. No. 10/817,970, Grey et al., HLA Binding Motifs and Peptides and Their Uses, is herein incorporated-by-reference.
  • Subject matter disclosed herein was funded, in part, by the United States government under grants from the National Institutes of Health. The U.S. government may have certain rights in this invention. This invention was funded, in part, by the U.S. government under a contract from the National Institutes of Health. The U.S. government may have certain rights in the invention.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to compositions and methods for preventing, treating or diagnosing a number of pathological states such as viral diseases and cancers. In particular, it provides novel peptides capable of binding selected major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and inducing an immune response.
  • The genetic makeup of a given mammal encodes the structures associated with the immune system of that species. Although there is a great deal of genetic diversity in the human population, even more so comparing humans and other species, there are also common features and effects. In mammals, certain molecules associated with immune function are termed the major histocompatibility complex.
  • MHC molecules are classified as either Class I or Class II molecules. Class II MHC molecules are expressed primarily on cells involved in initiating and sustaining immune responses, such as T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, dendritic cells, macrophages, etc. Class II MHC molecules are recognized by helper T lymphocytes and induce proliferation of helper T lymphocytes and amplification of the immune response to the particular immunogenic peptide that is displayed. Complexes between a particular disease-associated antigenic peptide and class II HLA molecules are recognized by helper T lymphocytes and induce proliferation of helper T lymphocytes and amplification of specific CTL and antibody immune responses.
  • Class I MHC molecules are expressed on almost all nucleated cells and are recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which then destroy the antigen-bearing cells. Complexes between a particular antigenic peptide and class I MHC molecules are recognized by CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which then destroy the cells bearing antigens bound by the HLA class I molecules expressed on those cells. CD8+ T lymphocytes frequently mature into cytotoxic effector which can lyse cells bearing the stimulating antigen. CTLs are particularly important in tumor rejection and in fighting viral, fungal, and parasitic infections.
  • A complex of an HLA molecule and a peptidic antigen acts as the ligand recognized by HLA-restricted T cells (Buus, S. et al., Cell 47:1071, 1986; Babbitt, B. P. et al., Nature 317:359, 1985; Townsend, A. and Bodmer, H., Annu. Rev. Immunol. 7:601, 1989; Germain, R. N., Annu. Rev. Immunol. 11:403, 1993).
  • Through the study of single amino acid substituted antigen analogs and the sequencing of endogenously bound, naturally processed peptides, critical residues that correspond to motifs required for specific binding to HLA antigen molecules have been identified (see also, e.g., Southwood, et al., J. Immunol. 160:3363, 1998; Rammensee, et al., Immunogenetics 41:178, 1995; Rammensee et al., SYFPEITHI, access via web at: http://134.2.96.221/scripts. hlaserver.dll/home.htm; Sette, A. and Sidney, J. Curr. Opin. Immunol. 10:478, 1998; Engelhard, V. H., Curr. Opin. Immunol. 6:13, 1994; Sette, A. and Grey, H. M., Curr. Opin. Immunol. 4:79, 1992; Sinigaglia, F. and Hammer, J. Curr. Biol. 6:52, 1994; Ruppert et al., Cell 74:929-937, 1993; Kondo et al., J. Immunol. 155:4307-4312, 1995; Sidney et al., J. Immunol. 157:3480-3490, 1996; Sidney et al., Human Immunol. 45:79-93, 1996; Sette, A. and Sidney, J. Immunogenetics 50:201-212, 1999). The presence of these residues correlates with binding affinity for HLA molecules. The identification of motifs and/or supermotifs that correlate with high and intermediate affinity binding is an important issue with respect to the identification of immunogenic peptide epitopes for the inclusion in a vaccine. Kast et al. (J. Immunol. 152:3904-12, 1994) have shown that motif-bearing peptides account for 90% of the epitopes that bind to allele-specific HLA class I molecules. In this study all possible peptides of 9 amino acids in length and overlapping by eight amino acids (240 peptides), which cover the entire sequence of the E6 and E7 proteins of human papillomavirus type 16, were evaluated for binding to five allele-specific HLA molecules that are expressed at high frequency among different ethnic groups. This unbiased set of peptides allowed an evaluation of the predictive value of HLA class I motifs. From the set of 240 peptides, 22 peptides were identified that bound to an allele-specific HLA molecule with high or intermediate affinity. Of these 22 peptides, 20 (i.e. 91%) were motif-bearing. Thus, this study demonstrates the value of motifs for the identification of peptide epitopes for inclusion in a vaccine: application of motif-based identification techniques will identify about 90% of the potential epitopes in a target antigen protein sequence.
  • A relationship between binding affinity for HLA class I molecules and immunogenicity of discrete peptide epitopes on bound antigens was determined by the present inventors. As disclosed in greater detail herein, higher HLA binding affinity is correlated with greater immunogenicity.
  • Furthermore, x-ray crystallographic analysis of HLA-peptide complexes has revealed pockets within the peptide binding cleft of HLA molecules which accommodate, in an allele-specific mode, specific residues of peptide ligands; these residues in turn determine the HLA binding capacity of the peptides in which they are present. (See, e.g., Madden, D. R. Annu. Rev. Immunol. 13:587, 1995; Smith, et al., Immunity 4:203, 1996; Fremont et al., Immunity 8:305, 1998; Stern et al., Structure 2:245, 1994; Jones, E. Y. Curr. Opin. Immunol. 9:75, 1997; Brown, J. H. et al., Nature 364:33, 1993; Guo, H. C. et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:8053, 1993; Guo, H. C. et al., Nature 360:364, 1992; Silver, M. L. et al., Nature 360:367, 1992; Matsumura, M. et al., Science 257:927, 1992; Madden et al., Cell 70:1035, 1992; Fremont, D. H. et al., Science 257:919, 1992; Saper, M. A., Bjorkman, P. J. and Wiley, D. C., J. Mol. Biol. 219:277, 1991).
  • Peptides of the present invention may also comprise epitopes that bind to HLA class II DR molecules. A greater degree of heterogeneity in both size and binding frame position of the motif, relative to the N- and C-termini of the peptide, exists for class II peptide ligands. This increased heterogeneity of HLA class II peptide ligands is due to the structure of the binding groove of the HLA class II molecule which, unlike its class I counterpart, is open at both ends. Crystallographic analysis of HLA class II DRB*0101-peptide complexes showed that the major energy of binding is contributed by peptide residues complexed with complementary pockets on the DRB*0101 molecules. An important anchor residue engages the deepest hydrophobic pocket (see, e.g., Madden, D. R. Ann. Rev. Immunol. 13:587, 1995) and is referred to as position 1 (P1). P1 may represent the N-terminal residue of a class II binding peptide epitope, but more typically is flanked towards the N-terminus by one or more residues. Other studies have also pointed to an important role for the peptide residue in the sixth position towards the C-terminus, relative to P1, for binding to various DR molecules.
  • In the past few years evidence has accumulated to demonstrate that a large fraction of HLA class I and class II molecules can be classified into a relatively few supertypes, each characterized by largely overlapping peptide binding repertoires, and consensus structures of the main peptide binding pockets. Thus, peptides of the present invention are identified by any one of several HLA-specific amino acid motifs, or if the presence of the motif corresponds to the ability to bind several allele-specific HLA molecules, a supermotif. The HLA molecules that bind to peptides that possess a particular amino acid supermotif are collectively referred to as an HLA “supertype.”
  • Accordingly, the definition of class I and class II allele-specific HLA binding motifs, or class I or class II supermotifs allows identification of regions within a protein that have the potential of binding particular HLA molecules.
  • The MHC class I antigens are encoded by the HLA-A, B, and C loci. HLA-A and HLA-B antigens are expressed at the cell surface at approximately equal densities, whereas the expression of HLA-C is significantly lower (perhaps as much as 10-fold lower). Each of these loci have a number of alleles.
  • Specific motifs for several of the major HLA-A alleles (copending U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 08/159,339 and 08/205,713, referred to here as the copending applications) and HLA-B alleles have been described. Several authors (Melief, Eur. J. Immunol., 21:2963-2970 (1991); Bevan, et al., Nature, 353:852-955 (1991)) have provided preliminary evidence that class I binding motifs can be applied to the identification of potential immunogenic peptides in animal models. Strategies for identification of peptides or peptide regions capable of interacting with multiple MHC alleles have been described in the literature.
  • Because human population groups, including racial and ethnic groups, have distinct patterns of distribution of HLA alleles it will be of value to identify motifs that describe peptides capable of binding more than one HLA allele, so as to achieve sufficient coverage of all population groups. The present invention addresses these and other needs.
  • The recognition of foreign pathogens, foreign cells (i.e., tumor), or one's own cells by the immune system occurs largely through major histocompatibility (MHC) molecules. MHC molecules present unique molecular fragments of foreign and self molecules that permit recognition and, when appropriate, stimulation of various immune effectors, namely B and T lymphocytes. MHC molecules are classified as either class I or class II. Class II MHC molecules are expressed primarily on cells involved in initiating and sustaining immune responses, such as T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, macrophages, etc. Class II MHC molecules are recognized by helper T lymphocytes and induce proliferation of helper T lymphocytes and amplification of the immune response to the particular immunogenic peptide that is displayed. CD4+ T lymphocytes are activated with recognition of a unique peptide fragment presented by a class II MHC molecule, usually found on an antigen presenting cell like a macrophage or dendritic cell. Often known as helper T lymphocytes (HTL), CD4+ lymphocytes proliferate and secrete cytokines that either support a antibody-mediated response through the production of IL-4 and IL-10 or support a cell-mediated response through the production of IL-2 and IFN-γ.
  • T lymphocytes recognize an antigen in the form of a peptide fragment bound to the MHC class I or class II molecule rather than the intact foreign antigen itself. An antigen presented by a MHC class I molecule is typically one that is endogenously synthesized by the cell (i.e., an intracellular pathogen). The resulting cytoplasmic antigens are degraded into small fragments in the cytoplasm, usually by the proteosome (Niedermann et al., Immunity, 2: 289-99 (1995)). Some of these small fragments are transported into the endoplasmic reticulum (a pre-Golgi compartment) where the fragment interacts with class I heavy chains to facilitate proper folding and association with the subunit β2 microglobulin to result in a stable complex formation between the fragment, MHC class I chain and β2 microglobulin. This complex is then transported to the cell surface for expression and potential recognition by specific CTLs. Antigens presented by MHC class II molecules are usually soluble antigens that enter the antigen presenting cell via phagocytosis, pinocytosis, or receptor-mediated endocytosis. Once in the cell, the antigen is partially degraded by acid-dependent proteases in endosomes. The resulting fragments or peptide associate with the MHC class II molecule after the release of the CLIP fragment to form a stable complex that is then transported to the surface for potential recognition by specific HTLs. See Blum, et al., Crit. Rev. Immunol., 17: 411-17 (1997); Arndt, et al., Immunol. Res., 16: 261-72 (1997).
  • Investigations of the crystal structure of the human MHC class I molecule, HLA-A2.1, indicate that a peptide binding groove is created by the folding of the α1 and α2 domains of the class I heavy chain (Bjorkman, et al., Nature 329:506 (1987). In these investigations, however, the identity of peptides bound to the groove was not determined.
  • Buus, et al., Science 242:1065 (1988) first described a method for acid elution of bound peptides from MHC. Subsequently, Rammensee and his coworkers (Falk, et al., Nature 351:290 (1991) have developed an approach to characterize naturally processed peptides bound to class I molecules. Other investigators have successfully achieved direct amino acid sequencing of the more abundant peptides in various HPLC fractions by conventional automated sequencing of peptides eluted from class I molecules of the B type (Jardetzky, et al., Nature 353:326 (1991) and of the A2.1 type by mass spectrometry (Hunt, et al., Science 225:1261 (1992). A review of the characterization of naturally processed peptides in MHC Class I has been presented by Rötzschke and Falk (Rötzschke and Falk, Immunol. Today 12:447 (1991). PCT publication WO97/34621, incorporated herein by reference, describes peptides which have a binding motif for A2.1 alleles.
  • Peptides that bind a particular MHC allele frequently will fit within a motif and have amino acid residues with particular biochemical properties at specific positions within the peptide. Such residues are usually dictated by the biochemical properties of the MHC allele. Peptide sequence motifs have been utilized to screen peptides capable of binding MHC molecules (Sette, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:3296 (1989)), and it has been reported that class I binding motifs identified potential immunogenic peptides in animal models (De Bruijn, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21: 2963-70 (1991); Pamer, et al., Nature 353: 852-955 (1991)). Also, binding of a particular peptide to a MHC molecule has been correlated with immunogenicity of that peptide (Schaeffer, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:4649 (1989)).
  • Of the many thousand possible peptides that are encoded by a complex foreign pathogen, only a small fraction ends up in a peptide form capable of binding to MHC class I or class II antigens and thus of being recognized by T cells. This phenomenon is known as immunodominance (Yewdell et al., Ann. Rev. Immunol., 17: 51-88 (1997)). More simply, immunodominance describes the phenomenon whereby immunization or exposure to a whole native antigen results in an immune response directed to one or a few “dominant” epitopes of the antigen rather than every epitope that the native antigen contains. Immunodominance is influenced by a variety of factors that include MHC-peptide affinity, antigen processing, and antigen availability.
  • In general, CTL and HTL responses are not directed against all possible epitopes. Rather, they are restricted to a few immunodominant determinants. (Zinkernagel, et al., Adv. Immunol. 27:51-59 (1979); Bennink, et al., J. Exp. Med. 168:1935-1939 (1988); Rawle, et al., J. Immunol. 146:3977-84 (1991); Sercarz et al. Ann. Rev. Immunol. 11:729-766 (1993)). It has been recognized that immunodominance (Benacerraf, et al., Science 175:273-79 (1972)) could be explained by either the ability of a given epitope to selectively bind a particular HLA protein (determinant selection theory) (Vitiello, et al., J. Immunol. 131:1635 (1983); Rosenthal, et al., Nature 267:156-58 (1977)), or being selectively recognized by the existing TCR (T cell receptor) specificity (repertoire theory) (Klein, J., IMMUNOLOGY, THE SCIENCE OF SELF-NONSELF DISCRIMINATION, John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp. 270-310 (1982)). It has been demonstrated that additional factors, mostly linked to processing events, can also play a key role in dictating, beyond strict immunogenicity, which of the many potential determinants will be presented as immunodominant (Sercarz, et al., Annu. Rev. Immunol. 11:729-66 (1993)).
  • The present understanding is that because T cells to dominant epitopes may have been clonally deleted, selecting subdominant epitopes may allow extant T cells to be recruited which will then lead to a therapeutic response. However, the binding of HLA molecules to subdominant epitopes is often less vigorous than to dominant ones. Accordingly, there is a need to be able to modulate the binding affinity of particular immunogenic epitopes for one or more HLA molecules, and thereby to modulate the immune response elicited by the peptide.
  • Accordingly, while some MHC binding peptides have been identified, there is a need in the art to identify novel MHC binding peptides from pathogens that can be utilized to generate an immune response in vaccines against the pathogens from which they originate. Further, there is a need in the art to identify peptides capable of binding a wide array of different types of MHC molecules such they are immunogenic in a large fraction a human outbred population.
  • Sette et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:3296 (1989) showed that MHC allele specific motifs could be used to predict MHC binding capacity. Schaeffer et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:4649 (1989) showed that MHC binding was related to immunogenicity. Several authors (De Bruijn et al., Eur. J. Immunol., 21:2963-2970 (1991); Pamer et al., 991 Nature 353:852-955 (1991)) have provided preliminary evidence that class I binding motifs can be applied to the identification of potential immunogenic peptides in animal models. Class I motifs specific for a number of human alleles of a given class I isotype have yet to be described. It is desirable that the combined frequencies of these different alleles should be high enough to cover a large fraction or perhaps the majority of the human outbred population.
  • Thus a need exists, met for the first time herein, to prepare analog peptides which elicit a more vigorous response. This ability greatly enhances the usefulness of peptide-based vaccines and therapeutic agents. The present invention provides these and other advantages.
  • One of the most formidable obstacles to the development of broadly efficacious peptide-based immunotherapeutics has been the extreme polymorphism of HLA molecules. Effective coverage of a population without bias would thus be a task of considerable complexity if epitopes were used specific for HLA molecules corresponding to each individual allele because a huge number of them would have to be used in order to cover an ethnically diverse population. There exists, therefore, a need to develop peptide epitopes that are bound by multiple HLA antigen molecules at high affinity for use in epitope-based vaccines. The greater the number of HLA antigen molecules bound, the greater the breadth of population coverage by the vaccine. Analog peptides may be engineered based on the information disclosed herein and thereby used to achieve such an enhancement in breadth of population coverage.
  • Thus, the use of analoguing to modify peptide epitopes to enhance population coverage and/or immunogenicity provides a heretofore undisclosed advantage of the present invention in creating effective, immunogenic vaccines for a broad segment of the population.
  • Despite the developments in the art, the prior art has yet to provide a useful human peptide-based vaccine or therapeutic agent based on this work. The present invention provides these and other advantages.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1. Preferred Motif Table.
  • FIG. 2. HLA superfamilies for HLA-A and HLA-B alleles. Various alleles of HLA-A and HLA-B are classified according to superfamily based on sequencing analysis or binding assays (verified supertype members) or on the basis of B and F pocket structure (predicted supertype members).
  • FIG. 3 shows binding motifs for peptides capable of binding HLA alleles sharing the B7-like specificity.
  • FIG. 4 shows the B7-like cross-reactive motif.
  • FIGS. 5A and 5B. Position 2 and C-terminus define specificity of HLA-A*0201. The preference for specific residues in position 2(a) or at the C-terminus (b) is shown as a function of the percent of peptides bearing a specific residue that bind A*0201 with IC50 of 500 nM or better. ARB values of peptides bearing specific residues in position 2 (a) or at the C-terminus (b) were calculated as described herein, and indexed relative to the residue with the highest binding capacity. The average (geometric) binding capacity of peptides with L in position 2 was 1991 nM. The average (geometric) binding capacity of peptides with V at the C-terminus was 2133 nM. Peptides included in the analysis had at least one tolerated anchor residue, as described in the text, at either position 2 or the C-terminus.
  • FIGS. 6A-6D. Map of the A*0201 motif. Summary map of the A*0201 motif for 8-mer (b), 10-mer (c) and 11-mer (d) peptides. At secondary anchor positions, residues shown as preferred (or deleterious) are associated with an average binding capacity at least 3-fold greater than (or 3-fold less than) peptides of the same size carrying other residues at the same position. At the primary anchor positions, preferred residues are those associated with an average binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue at the same position. Tolerated primary anchor residues are those associated with an average binding capacity between 10- and 100-fold of the optimal residue at the same position.
  • FIGS. 7A-7D. Position 2 fine specificity of HLA-A2-supertype molecules. ARB values of peptides bearing specific residues in position 2 were calculated for each A2-supertype molecule as described in the text, and indexed relative to the residue with the highest ARB for each specific molecule. The average (geometric) binding capacity of the peptides bearing the residue with the highest ARB were 55, 59, 89, and 41 mM for A*0202, A*0206, and A*6802, respectively.
  • FIGS. 8A-8D. C-terminal fine specificity of HLA-A2-supertype molecules. ARB values of peptides bearing specific residues at the C-terminus were calculated for each A2-supertype molecule as described in the text, and indexed relative to the residue with the highest ARB for each specific molecule. The average (geometric) binding capacity of the peptides bearing the residue with the highest ARB were 291, 48, 250, and 553 nM for A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802, respectively.
  • FIG. 9. Map of the A*0202 motif. Summary map of A*0202 motif for 9-mer (a) and 10-mer (b) peptides. At secondary anchor positions, residues shown as preferred (or deleterious) are associated with an average binding capacity at least 3-fold greater than (or 3-fold less than) peptides of the same size carrying other residues at the same position. At the primary anchor positions, preferred residues are those associated with an average binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue at the same position. Tolerated primary anchor residues are those associated with an average binding capacity between 10- and 100-fold of the optimal residue at the same position.
  • FIG. 10. Map of the A*0203 motif. Summary maps of A*0203 motif for 9-mer (a) and 10-mer (b) peptides. At secondary anchor positions, residues shown as preferred (or deleterious) are associated with an average binding capacity at least 3-fold greater than (or 3-fold less than) peptides of the same size carrying other residues at the same position. At the primary anchor positions, preferred residues are those associated with an average binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue at the same position. Tolerated primary anchor residues are those associated with an average binding capacity between 10- and 100-fold of the optimal residue at the same position.
  • FIG. 11. Map of the A*0206 motif. Summary maps of A*0206 motif for 9-mer (a) and 10-mer (b) peptides. At secondary anchor positions, residues shown as preferred (or deleterious) are associated with an average binding capacity at least 3-fold greater than (or 3-fold less than) peptides of the same size carrying other residues at the same position. At the primary anchor positions, preferred residues are those associated with an average binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue at the same position. Tolerated primary anchor residues are those associated with an average binding capacity between 10- and 100-fold of the optimal residue at the same position.
  • FIG. 12. Map of the A*6802 motif. Summary maps of A*6802 motif for 9-mer (a) and 10-mer (b) peptides. At secondary anchor positions, residues shown as preferred (or deleterious) are associated with an average binding capacity at least 3-fold greater than (or 3-fold less than) peptides of the same size carrying other residues at the same position. At the primary anchor positions, preferred residues are those associated with an average binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue at the same position. Tolerated primary anchor residues are those associated with an average binding capacity between 10- and 100-fold of the optimal residue at the same position.
  • FIG. 13. A2 supermotif consensus summary of secondary and primary anchor influences on A2-supertype binding capacity of 9-(a) and 10-mer (b) peptides. Residues shown significantly influence binding to 3 or more A2-supertype molecules. The number of molecules influenced are indicated in parentheses. At secondary anchor positions, residues are considered preferred only if they do not have a deleterious influence on more than one molecule. Preferred residues which were deleterious in the context of one molecule are indicated by reduced and italicized font. Assessment at the primary anchor positions are based on single substitution and peptide library analyses, as discussed in the text.
  • FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of an HLA-A purification scheme.
  • FIG. 15 is an SDS-PAGE analysis of affinity purified. HLA-A3.2 from the cell line EHM using an affinity column prepared with the mAb GAP A3 coupled to protein A-Sepharose.
      • Lane 1—Molecular weight standards
      • Lane 2—A3.2 acid eluate
      • Lane 3—A3.2 a second acid eluate
      • Lane 4—Base elution #1
      • Lane 5—Base elution #2
      • Lane 6—Concentrated base elution 1
      • Lane 7—Concentrated base elution 2
      • Lane 8—BSA—10 pg
      • Lane 9—BSA—3 pg
      • Lane 10—BSA—1 pg
  • FIG. 16 shows reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) separation of HLA-A3 acid eluted 20 peptides.
  • FIG. 17 shows binding of a radioactively labeled peptide of the invention to MHC molecules as measured by the bound radioactivity.
  • FIG. 18 shows inhibition of binding of a peptide of the invention to MHC molecules in the presence of three peptides (HBc 18-27 (92-4-07), a Prostate Specific Antigen peptide (939.01), and HIV nef 73-82 (940.03)).
  • FIG. 19 shows the dependency of the binding on MHC concentration in the presence or absence of β2 microglobulin.
  • FIG. 20 shows dose dependent inhibition of binding with the addition of unlabeled peptide.
  • FIG. 21 Scatchard Analysis of binding to MHC All confirming an apparent KD of 6 nM.
  • FIG. 22 shows the binding of a radioactively labeled peptide of the invention to MHC A1 as measured by bound reactivity.
  • FIG. 23 shows dose dependent inhibition of binding with the addition of unlabeled peptide.
  • FIG. 24. Scatchard Analysis of binding to MHC A1 confirming an apparent KD of 21 nM.
  • FIG. 25 shows the binding of two peptides of this invention as a function of MHC A24 concentration as measured by bound reactivity.
  • FIG. 26 shows the dose dependent inhibition of binding to MHC A24 with the addition of unlabeled peptides.
  • FIG. 27A and FIG. 27B show the Scatchard Analysis of binding to MHC A24 of the two peptides confirming a KD of 30 and 60 nM, respectively.
  • FIG. 28 shows the effect on MHC class I molecules of β2 Microglobulin and a peptide of choice on-acid-stripped PHA blasts.
  • FIG. 29 shows CTL induction using GC43 A2.1 responders and autologous acid-stripped PBMCs or PHA blasts loaded with the 777.03-924.07-927.32 peptide pool.
  • FIG. 30 shows CTL induction using X351 or X355 A2.1 responders and autologous acid stripped PBMCs or PHA blasts as stimulators after loading with the 1044.04-1044.05-1044.06 peptide pool.
  • FIG. 31 shows CTL induction using GC49 A2.1 responders and Autologous Acid stripped PHA blasts as stimulators after loading with 939.03 peptide.
  • FIG. 32 shows CTL induction using GC66 A1 responders and autologous acid stripped PBMCs as stimulators after loading of peptide 938.01.
  • FIG. 33 illustrates the lysis of peptide sensitized targets and endogenous targets following stimulation with SAC-I activated PBMCs loaded with a MAGE 3 peptide.
  • FIG. 34 shows a comparison of the acid strip-loading with the cold temperature incubation.
  • FIG. 35 shows a CTL response to an immunogenic peptide for MAGE/All.
  • FIG. 36 shows a CTL response to an immunogenic peptide for HIV/A3.
  • FIG. 37 shows a CTL response to an immunogenic peptide for HCV/A3.
  • FIG. 38 shows a CTL response to an immunogenic peptide for HBV/A3.
  • FIG. 39 shows allele specific motifs of five A3 supertype alleles: A*0301, A*1101, A*3101, A*3301, and A*6801. Individual residues, or groups of residues, associated for each non-anchor position with either good (“preferred”) or poor (“deleterious”) binding capacities to each individual allele are shown.
  • FIG. 40 shows the A3 supermotif. Numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of molecules for which the residue or residue group was preferred or deleterious.
  • FIG. 41 summarizes the motifs for the B7 supertype alleles (FIG. 41A-E) and for the B7 supermotif (FIG. 41F). The Figure and corresponding motif/supermotif is as follows: a) B*0702, b) B*3501, c) B51, d) B*5301, and e) B*5401. These maps were subsequently used to define the B7 supermotif (f). Values in parenthesis indicate the frequency that a residue or residue group was preferred or deleterious.
  • FIG. 42 shows relative average binding capacity of the A*0101 motif 9-mer peptides as a function of the different residues occurring at each of the non-anchor positions. FIG. 42A and FIG. 42B depict data, and FIG. 42C and FIG. 42D depict graphics. Data sets from either 2-9 motif (FIG. 42A), 3-9 motif (FIG. 42B) peptide sets were analyzed and tabulated [as described in the Examples]. The 2-9 and 3-9 sets contained 101 and 85 different peptides, respectively. Maps of secondary effects influencing the binding capacity of 9-mer peptides carrying the 2-9 (FIG. 42C) 3-9 mer (FIG. 42D) A*0101 motifs are also shown.
  • FIG. 43 shows relative average binding capacity of the A*0101 motif 10 mer peptides as function of the different residues occurring at each of the non-anchor positions. Data sets from either 2-10 mer (FIG. 43A) or 3-10 (FIG. 43B) motif sets of peptides were analyzed and tabulated. The 2-10 and 3-10 sets contained 91 and 89 different peptides, respectively. Maps of secondary effects influencing the binding capacity of 10 mer peptides carrying the 2-10 (FIG. 43C) mer and (1) and or 3-10 mer (FIG. 43D) A1 motifs are also shown.
  • FIG. 44 shows preferred and deleterious secondary anchor residues for the refined A24 9-mer and 10-mer motifs.
  • FIG. 49 is a flow diagram of an HLA-A purification scheme.
  • FIG. 45 shows a scattergram of the log of relative binding plotted against the “Grouped Ratio” algorithm for 9 mer peptides.
  • FIG. 46 shows a scattergram of the log of relative binding plotted against the average “Log of Binding” algorithm score for 9 mer peptides.
  • FIG. 47 and FIG. 48 show scattergrams of a set of 10-mer peptides containing preferred residues in positions 2 and 10 as scored by the “Grouped Ratio” and “Log of Binding” algorithms.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to compositions and methods for preventing, treating or diagnosing a number of pathological states such as viral diseases and cancers. Thus, provided herein are novel peptides capable of binding selected major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and inducing or modulating an immune response. Some of the peptides disclosed are capable of binding human class II MHC (HLA) molecules, including HLA-DR and HLA-DQ alleles. Other peptides disclosed herein are capable of binding to human class I molecules, including one or more of the following: HLA-A1, HLA-A2.1, HLA-A3.2, HLA-A11, HLA-A24.1, HLA-B7, and HLA-B44 molecules. Other peptides disclosed are capable of binding to murine class I molecules. Also provided are compositions that include immunogenic peptides having binding motifs specific for MHC molecules. The peptides and compositions disclosed can be utilized in methods for inducing an immune response, a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response or helper T lymphocyte (HTL) response in particular, when administered to a system.
  • The present invention also provides a method of identifying peptide epitopes comprising an HLA A3 supermotif. An A3 supermotif, when present in a peptide, allows the peptide to bind more than one HLA molecule that is a member of the HLA A3 supertype. An HLA supertype describes a set of HLA molecules grouped on the basis of shared peptide-binding specificities. Accordingly, HLA molecules that share similar binding repertoires for peptides bearing the HLA-A3 supermotif are grouped into the HLA A3 supertype. The HLA A3 supertype is comprised by HLA A3, A11, A31, A3301, and A6801.
  • The present invention provides compositions comprising immunogenic peptides having binding motifs for HLA alleles. The immunogenic peptides are about 9 to 10 residues in length and comprise conserved residues at certain positions such as a proline at position 2 and an aromatic residue (e.g., Y,W,F) or hydrophobic residue (e.g., L,I,V,M, or A) at the carboxy terminus. In particular, an advantage of the peptides of the invention is their ability to bind to two or more different HLA alleles.
  • The present invention also provides compositions comprising immunogenic peptides having binding motifs for MHC Class I molecules. The immunogenic peptides are typically between about 8 and about 11 residues and comprise conserved residues involved in binding proteins encoded by the appropriate MHC allele. A number of allele specific motifs have been identified.
  • For instance, the motif for HLA-A3.2 comprises from the N-terminus to C-terminus a first conserved residue of L, M, I, V, S, A, T and F at position 2 and a second conserved residue of K, R or Y at the C-terminal end. Other first conserved residues are C, G or D and alternatively E. Other second conserved residues are H or F. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues.
  • The motif for HLA-A1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of T, S or M, a second conserved residue of D or E, and a third conserved residue of Y. Other second conserved residues are A, S or T. The first and second conserved residues are adjacent and are preferably separated from the third conserved residue by 6 to 7 residues. A second motif consists of a first conserved residue of E or D and a second conserved residue of Y where the first and second conserved residues are separated by 5 to 6 residues.
  • The motif for HLA-A11 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of T or V at position 2 and a C-terminal conserved residue of K. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 or 7 residues.
  • The motif for HLA-A24.1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of Y, F or W at position 2 and a C terminal conserved residue of F, I, W, M or L. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues.
  • The present invention also provides compositions comprising immunogenic peptides having allele-specific binding motifs, such as binding motifs for HLA-A2.1 molecules. For HLA class I epitopes, which bind to the appropriate HLA Class I allele, the peptides typically comprise epitopes from 8-11 amino acids in length, often 9 to 10 residues in length, that comprise conserved residues at certain positions such as positions 2 and the C-terminal position. Moreover, the peptides preferably do not comprise negative binding residues as defined herein at other positions such as, in an HLA-A2.1 motif-bearing epitope, positions 1, 3, 6 and/or 7 in the case of peptides 9 amino acids in length and positions 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and/or 9 in the case of peptides 10 amino acids in length. For HLA class II epitopes, the peptides typically comprise a motif of 6 to about 25 amino acids for a class II HLA motif, typically, 9 to 13 amino acids in length, which is recognized by a particular HLA molecule. The present invention defines positions within a motif enabling the selection of peptides which will bind efficiently to HLA A2.1.
  • The invention also provides the parameters for the design of vaccines which are expected to effectively target large portions of the population. Following the guidance set forth herein, to prepare vaccines with respect to a particular infectious organism or virus or tumor, the relevant antigen is assessed to determine the location of epitopes which are most likely to effect a cytotoxic T response to an infection or tumor. By analyzing the amino acid sequence of the antigen according to the methods set forth herein, an appropriate set of epitopes can be identified. Peptides which consist of these epitopes can readily be tested for their ability to bind one or more HLA alleles characteristic of the A2 supertype. In general, peptides which bind with an affinity represented by an IC50 of 500 nM or less have a high probability of eliciting a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response. The ability of these peptides to do so can also readily be verified. Vaccines can then be designed based on the immunogenic peptides thus identified. The vaccines themselves can consist of the peptides per se, precursors which will be expected to generate the peptides in vivo, or nucleic acids encoding these peptides for production in vivo.
  • Thus, in one aspect, the invention is directed to a method for identifying an epitope in an antigen characteristic of a pathogen or tumor. The epitope identified by this method is more likely to enhance an immune response in an individual bearing an allele of the A2 supertype than an arbitrarily chosen peptide. The method comprises analyzing the amino acid sequence of the antigen for segments of 8-11 amino acids, where the amino acid at position 2 is a small or aliphatic hydrophobic residue (L, I, V, M, A, T or Q) and the amino acid at the C-terminus of the segment is also a small or aliphatic hydrophobic residue (L, I, V, M, A or T). In preferred embodiments, the residue at position 2 is L or M. In other preferred embodiments, the segment contains 9-10 amino acids. In another preferred embodiment, the segment contains Q or N at position 1 and/or R, H or K at position 8, and lacks a D, E and G at position 3 when the segment is a 10-mer. Also preferred is V at position 2 and at the C-terminus.
  • The corresponding family of HLA molecules (i.e., the HLA-A2 supertype that binds these peptides) is comprised of at least: A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0204, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207, A*0209, A*0214, A*6802, and A*6901.
  • Also described herein are compositions comprising immunogenic peptides having binding motif subsequences for HLA-A2.1 molecules. The immunogenic epitopes in the peptides, which bind to the appropriate MHC allele, are preferably 8-11 residues in length and more preferably 9 to 10 residues in length and comprise conserved residues at certain positions such as positions 2 and the C-terminus (often position 9). Moreover, the peptides do not comprise negative binding residues as defined herein at other positions such as positions 1, 3, 6 and/or 7 in the case of peptides 9 amino acids in length and positions 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and/or 9 in the case of peptides 10 amino acids in length. The present invention defines positions within a motif enabling the selection of peptides which will bind efficiently to HLA A2.1.
  • The HLA-A2.1 motif-bearing peptides comprise epitopes of 8-11 amino acids which typically have a first conserved residue at the second position from the N-terminus selected from the group consisting of L, M, I, V, A, T, and Q and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position selected from the group consisting of V, L, I, A, M, and T. In a preferred embodiment, the peptide may have a first conserved residue at the second position from the N-terminus selected from the group consisting of V, A, T, or Q; and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position selected from the group consisting of L, M, I, V, A, and T. Secondary anchor specificities have also been defined for the HLA-A2.1 binding motif.
  • The HLA-A1 motifs characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of T, S, or M as a primary anchor residue at position 2 and the presence of Y as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope. An alternative allele-specific A1 motif is characterized by a primary anchor residue at position 3 rather than position 2. This motifs characterized by the presence of D, E, A, or S as a primary anchor residue in position 3, and a Y as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., DiBrino et al., J. Immunol., 152:620, 1994; Kondo et al., Immunogenetics 45:249, 1997; and Kubo et al., J Immunol. 152:3913, 1994 for reviews of relevant data).
  • The motif for HLA-A1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of T, S or M, a second conserved residue of D or E, and a third conserved residue of Y. Other second conserved residues are A, S or T. The first and second conserved residues are adjacent and are preferably separated from the third conserved residue by 6 to 7 residues. A second motif consists of a first conserved residue of E or D and a second conserved residue of Y where the first and second conserved residues are separated by 5 to 6 residues.
  • The HLA-A3 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of L, M, V, I, S, A, T, F, C, G, or D as a primary anchor residue at position 2, and the presence of K, Y, R, H, F, or A as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., DiBrino et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:1508, 1993; and Kubo et al., J Immunol. 152:3913-24, 1994).
  • For instance, the motif for HLA-A3.2 comprises from the N-terminus to C-terminus a first conserved residue of L, M, I, V, S, A, T and F at position 2 and a second conserved residue of K, R or Y at the C-terminal end. Other first conserved residues are C, G or D and alternatively E. Other second conserved residues are H or F. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues.
  • The HLA-A11 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of V, T, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C, D, or F as a primary anchor residue in position 2, and K, R, Y, or H as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Zhang et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 90:2217-2221, 1993; and Kubo et al., J Immunol. 152:3913-3924, 1994). The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 or 7 residues.
  • The HLA-A3 and HLA-A11 are members of the HLA-A3 supertype family. The HLA-A3 supermotifs characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of A, L, I, V, M, S, or, T as a primary anchor at position 2, and a positively charged residue, R or K, at the C-terminal position of the epitope, e.g., in position 9 of 9-mers (see, e.g., Sidney et al., Hum. Immunol. 45:79, 1996). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules (the HLA-A3 supertype) that bind the A3 supermotif include A*0301, A*1101, A*3101, A*3301, and A*6801.
  • The invention further comprises an extended A3 supermotif, which is based on a detailed map of the secondary anchor requirements for binding to molecules of the HLA A3 supertype. The extended supermotif allows for the efficient prediction of cross-reactive binding of peptides to alleles of the A3 supertype by screening the native sequence of a particular antigen. It is also used to select analog options for peptides that bear amino acids defined by the primary supermotif. Analoging can comprise selection of desired residues at the primary and/or secondary anchor positions, thereby altering the binding affinity and immune modulating properties of the resulting analogs.
  • In order to identify A3 supermotif-bearing epitopes in a target antigen, a native protein sequence, e.g., a tumor-associated antigen, an infectious organism, or a donor tissue for transplantation, is screened using a means for computing, such as an intellectual calculation or a computer, to determine the presence of an A3 supermotif within the sequence. The information obtained from the analysis of native peptide can be used directly to evaluate the status of the native peptide or may be utilized subsequently to generate the peptide epitope.
  • The HLA-A24 motifs characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of Y, F, W, or M as a primary anchor residue in position 2, and F, L, I, or W as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Kondo et al., J: Immunol. 155:4307-4312, 1995; and Kubo et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913-3924, 1994). The motif for HLA-A24.1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of Y, F or W at position 2 and a C terminal conserved residue of F, I, W, M or L. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues.
  • The invention also comprises peptides comprising epitopes containing an HLA-B7 supermotif. Following the methods described in the copending applications noted above, certain peptides capable of binding at multiple HLA alleles which possess a common motif have been identified. The motifs of those peptides can be characterized as follows: N-XPXXXXXX(A,V,I,L,M)-C (SEQ ID NO:14618); N-XPXXXXXXX(A,V,I,L,M)-C (SEQ ID NO:14619); N-XPXXXXXX(F,W,Y)-C (SEQ ID NO:14620); and N-XPXXXXXXX(F,W,Y)-C (SEQ ID NO:14621). Motifs that are capable of binding at multiple alleles are referred to here as “supermotifs.” The particular supermotifs above are specifically called “B7-like-supermotifs.” The epitopes are 8-11 amino acids in length, often 9 or 10 amino acids in length, and comprise conserved residues of a proline at position 2 and an aromatic residue (e.g., Y, W, F) or hydrophobic residue (e.g., L, I, V, M, A) at the C-terminal position of the epitope. Peptides bearing an HLA-B7 supermotif bind to more than one HLA-B7 supertype family member. The corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind the B7 supermotif (i.e., the HLA-B7 supertype) is comprised of at least twenty six HLA-B proteins comprising at least: B*0702, B*0703, B*0704, B*0705, B*1508, B*3501, B*3502, B*3503, B*3504, B*3505, B*3506, B*3507, B*3508, B*5101, B*5102, B*5103, B*5104, B*5105, B*5301, B*5401, B*5501, B*5502, B*5601, B*5602, B*6701, and B*7801 (see, e.g., Sidney, et al., J: Immunol. 154:247, 1995; Barber, et al., Curro Bioi. 5:179, 1995; Hill, et aI., Nature 360:434, 1992; Ramannsee, et aI., Immunogenetics 41:178, 1995).
  • The present invention defines positions within a motif enabling the selection of peptides that will bind efficiently to more than one HLA-A, HLA-B or HLA-C alleles. Immunogenic peptides of the invention are typically identified using a computer to scan the amino acid sequence of a desired antigen for the presence of the supermotifs. Examples of antigens include viral antigens and antigens associated with cancer. An antigen associated with cancer is an antigen, such as a melanoma antigen, that is characteristic of (i.e., expressed by) cells in a malignant tumor but not normally expressed by healthy cells. Epitopes on a number of immunogenic target proteins can be identified using the sequence motifs described herein. Examples of suitable antigens particularly include hepatitis B core and surface antigens (HBVc, HBVs) hepatitis C antigens, Epstein-Barr virus antigens, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antigens, and also include prostate specific antigen (PSA), melanoma antigens (e.g., MAGE-1), and human papilloma virus (HPV) antigens Lassa virus, p53 CEA, and Her2/neu; this list is not intended to exclude other sources of antigens.
  • Epitopes on a number of immunogenic target proteins, i.e., target antigens, have been identified. Examples of suitable antigens include tumor-associated antigens such as tyrosinase related proteins 1 and 2 (TRP 1 and TRP), which are frequently associated with melanoma; MART1; p53 and murine p53 (mp53), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), Her2/neu; and MAGE, including MAGE1, MAGE2, and MAGE3, which are expressed on a broad range of tumors; prostate cancer-associated antigens such as prostate specific antigen (PSA), human kallikrein (huK2), prostate specific membrane antigen (PSM), and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP); antigens from viruses such as hepatitis B (e.g., HBV core and surface antigens (HBVc, HBVs)) hepatitis C antigens, Epstein-Barr virus, human immunodeficiency type-1 virus (HIV 1), Kaposi's sarcoma herpes (KSHV), human papilloma virus (HPV), influenza virus, and Lassa virus antigens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT) antigens, trypanosome, e.g., Trypansoma cruzi (T. cruzi), antigens such as surface antigen (TSA), and malaria antigens.
  • The peptides are thus useful in pharmaceutical compositions for both in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic and diagnostic applications (e.g., tetramer reagents; Beckman Coulter).
  • The present invention also provides compositions comprising immunogenic peptides having binding motifs for non-A2 HLA alleles. The immunogenic peptides are preferably about 9 to 10 residues in length and comprise conserved residues at certain positions such as proline at position 2 and an aromatic residue (e.g., Y, W, F) or hydrophobic residue (e.g., L, I, V, M, or A) at the carboxy terminus. In particular, an advantage of the peptides of the invention is their ability to bind to two or more different HLA alleles.
  • Upon identification of epitopes comprising the HLA A3 supermotif, motif-bearing peptides can be isolated from a native sequence or synthesized. Accordingly, epitope-based vaccine compositions directed to a target antigen are prepared. These epitope-based vaccines preferably have enhanced, typically broadened, population coverage. The HLA-A3 supermotif-bearing epitopes comprising the vaccine composition preferably bind to more than one HLA A3 supertype molecule with a KD of less than 500 nM, and stimulate a CTL response in patients bearing an HLA A3 supertype allele to which the peptide binds.
  • Motif-bearing peptides may additionally be used as diagnostic, rather than immunogenic, reagents to evaluate an immune response. For example, an HLA-A3 supermotif-bearing peptide epitope may be used prognostically to analyze an immune response for the presence of specific CTL populations from patients who possess an HLA A3 supertype allele bound by the peptide epitope.
  • Certain specific embodiments of the invention are summarized below.
  • The present invention provides a method for identifying a peptide epitope predicted to bind two or more allele-specific HLA A3 supertype molecules. The peptide epitope of, for example, 8-15 amino acid residues, typically 8-11 amino acid residues, and preferably 9-10 amino acid residues, is identified in an amino acid sequence using a means for computing such as an intellectual calculation, preferably a computer, to determine the presence of an A3 supermotif within the sequence. As noted above, the A3 supermotif comprises a first primary amino acid anchor residue that is V, S, M, A, T, L, or I at position two from the amino terminal end of the epitope and a second primary amino acid anchor residue that is R or K at the carboxyl terminal end of the epitope. We note that the epitope may be comprised by a peptide or protein sequence larger than the epitope itself and still fall within the bounds of the invention.
  • Following identification, the peptide epitope may be synthesized such that the first residue of the motif is at the second position from the amino terminal residue of the peptide. Further, a peptide may be synthesized that comprises at least two epitopes, preferably at least two distinct epitopes.
  • The binding affinity of a peptide epitope in accordance with the invention for at least one HLA A3 supertype molecule is preferably determined. A preferred peptide epitope has a binding affinity of less than 500 nM for the at least one HLA A3 supertype molecule, and more preferably less than 50 nM.
  • Synthesis of an A3 supermotif-containing epitope may occur in vitro or in vivo. In a preferred embodiment, the peptide is encoded by a recombinant nucleic acid and expressed in a cell. The nucleic acid may encode one or more peptides, at least one of which is an epitope of the invention.
  • A peptide epitope of the invention, in the context of an HLA A-3 supertype molecule to which it binds, can be contacted, either in vitro or in vivo, with a cytotoxic T lymphocyte and thereby be used to elicit a T cell response in an HLA-diverse population.
  • A CTL response against a target antigen may be induced, preferably with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), from a patient that has an allele-specific HLA-A3 molecule that is a member of the A3 supertype. A CTL response can be induced by contacting the PBMCs with an A3 supermotif-bearing peptide epitope derived from the target antigen. Preferably, the supermotif-bearing epitope binds the HLA molecule with a KD of less than 500 nM. The CTLs or PBMCs may further be contacted with a helper T lymphocyte (HTL) peptide epitope, whereby both a CTL and an HTL response are induced. The CTL epitope and the HTL epitope may be comprised by a single peptide. Further, the HTL epitope may be lipidated, preferably with palmitic acid, and may be linked by a spacer molecule to the CTL epitope. The epitope may be expressed by a nucleotide sequence; in a preferred embodiment the nucleotide sequence is comprised by an attenuated viral host.
  • As will be apparent from the discussion below, other embodiments of methods and compositions are also within the scope of the invention. Further, novel synthetic peptides produced by any of the methods described herein are also part of the invention.
  • The present invention provides peptides and nucleic acids encoding them for use in vaccines and therapeutics. The invention provides methods of inducing a cytotoxic T cell response against a preselected antigen in, a patient, the method comprising contacting a cytotoxic T cell with an immunogenic peptide of the invention. The peptides of the invention may be derived from a number of antigens including viral antigens, tumor associated antigens, parasitic antigens, fungal antigens and the like. The methods of the invention can be carried out in vitro or in vivo. In a preferred embodiment the peptides are contacted with the cytotoxic T cell by administering to the patient a nucleic acid molecule comprising a sequence encoding the immunogenic peptide.
  • In one embodiment, the peptide is of between about 9 and about 15 residues and binds to at least two HLA-A3-like molecules with a dissociation constant of less than about 500 nM and induces a cytotoxic T cell response. The immunogenic peptides have a sequence of 9 residues comprising a binding motif from the N-terminus to the C-terminus as follows:
      • a first primary anchor residue at the second position selected from the group consisting of A, L, I, V, M, S and T and a second primary anchor residue at the ninth position selected from the group consisting of R and K; and
      • one or more secondary anchor residues selected from the group consisting of Y, F, or W, at the third position, Y, F, or W at the sixth position, Y, F, or W at the seventh position, P at the eighth position, and any combination thereof.
  • The invention further provides immunogenic peptides which bind to HLAA*0301 gene products. These peptides comprise a nine residue binding motif from the N-terminus to the C-terminus as follows:
      • a first primary anchor residue at the second position selected from the group consisting of A, L, I, V, M, S and T and a second primary anchor residue at the ninth position selected from the group consisting of R and K; and
      • one or more secondary anchor residues selected from the group consisting of R, H, or K at the first position, Y, F, or W, at the third position, P, R, H, K, Y, F, or W at the fourth position, A at the fifth position, Y, F, or W at the sixth position, P at the eighth position, and any combination thereof.
  • The invention also provides immunogenic peptides which bind to HLAA*1101 gene products. These peptides comprise a nine residue binding motif from the N-terminus to the C-terminus as follows:
      • a first primary anchor residue at the second position selected from the group consisting of A, L, 1, V, M, S and T and a second primary anchor residue at the ninth position selected from the group consisting of R and K; and
      • a secondary anchor residue selected from the group consisting of A at the first position, Y, F, or W, at the third position, Y, F, or W at the fourth position, A at the fifth position, Y, F, or W at the sixth position, Y, F, or W at the seventh position, P at the eighth position, and any combination thereof.
  • The present invention is directed to methods of modulating the binding of peptide epitopes to HLA class I molecules and HLA class II molecules. The invention includes a method of modifying binding of an original peptide epitope that bears a motif correlated with binding to an HLA molecule, said motif comprising at least one primary anchor position, said at least one primary anchor position having specified therefore primary anchor amino acid residues consisting essentially of two or more residues, said method comprising exchanging the primary anchor residue of the original peptide epitope for another primary anchor residue, with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue is not the same as the exchanged primary anchor residue. A preferred embodiment of the invention includes a method where the original primary anchor residue is a less preferred residue, and the exchanged residue is a more preferred residue.
  • One alternative embodiment of the invention includes a method of modifying binding of an original peptide epitope that bears a motif correlated with binding to an HLA molecule, said motif comprising at least one primary anchor position having specified therefore at least one primary anchor residue, and at least one secondary anchor position having specified therefore at least one secondary residue, said method comprising exchanging the secondary anchor residue of the original peptide epitope for another secondary anchor residue, with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue is different than the exchanged amino acid residue. In some cases the original secondary residue is a deleterious residue and the exchanged residue is a residue other than a deleterious residue and/or the original secondary anchor residue is a less preferred residue and the exchanged residue is a more preferred residue.
  • Another alternative embodiment is a method comprising modifying binding of an epitope that bears an HLA B7 supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue P at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, I, L, F, M, W, Y or A at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus for a residue which is V, I, L, F, M, W, Y or A, with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue.
  • An alternative method of this embodiment includes a method wherein the primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is separated from the primary anchor residue at position two by six residues. The method further comprises:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is F, Y, W, L, I, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position three and/or eight for a residue which is F, Y or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions three, and/or eight is not the same as the exchanged residue.
  • A further alternative embodiment is a method comprising modifying binding of an epitope that bears an HLA B7 supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue P at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, I, L, F, M, W, Y or A at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least six residues and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is F, Y, W, L, I, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position three and/or eight for a residue which is F, Y or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions three, and/or eight is not the same as the exchanged residue;
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A2 supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, I, V, M, A, T, or Q at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, I, V, M, A, or T at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is L, I, V, M, A, T, or Q with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus of the epitope for a residue which is L, I, V, M, A, or T with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • Also included is a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A3 supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, S, M, A, T, L, or I at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is R or K at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is V, S, M, A, T, L, or I with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus of the epitope for a residue which is R or K with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • The preceding embodiment may be a method where the primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is separated from the primary anchor residue at position two by six residues, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three, six or seven which is Y, F or W, with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three, six or seven, respectively, is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not P.
  • Another embodiment of the invention includes a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A3 supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, S, M, A, T, L, or I at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is R or K at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three, six or seven which is Y, F or W, with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three, six or seven, respectively, is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not P; or
      • (c) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said supermotif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not deleterious; or
      • (d) performing two or more of steps (a)-(c).
  • Alternative embodiments of the invention include a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A3 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is A, L, I, V, M, S, T, F, C, G, or D at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is R, K, Y, H, F, or A at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is A, L, I, V, M, S, T, F, C, G, or D with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus of the epitope for a residue which is R, K, Y, H, F, or A with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • Another embodiment of the invention is a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A3 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is A, L, I, V, M, S, T, F, C, G, or D at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is R, K, Y, H, F, or A at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is R, H, or K with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue of position one; or
      • (b) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is Y, F or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not the same as the exchanged residue of position three; or,
      • (c) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is P, R, H, K, Y, F, or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue at position four; or
      • (d) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position five for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position five is not A; or
      • (e) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position six for a residue which is Y, F or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position six is not the same as the exchanged residue at position six; or
      • (f) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not P; or
      • (g) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (h) performing two or more of steps (a)-(g).
  • Further, the invention includes a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A11 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, T, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C, D, or F at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is K, R, Y, or H at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is V, T, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C, D or F with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus of the epitope for a residue which is K, R, Y, or H with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • An alternative method comprises modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A11 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, T, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C, D or F at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is K, R, Y, or H at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position three, four, six, or seven for a residue which is Y, F or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three, four, six or seven respectively is not the same as the exchanged residue at such position; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary residue at position five for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position five is not the same as the exchanged residue at position five; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not the same as the exchanged residue at position eight; or
      • (e) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (f) performing two or more of steps (a)-(e).
  • An additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method for modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A2.1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, M, V, Q, I, A, or T at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, L, I, M, A, or T at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is L, M, V, Q, I, A, or T with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus of the epitope for a residue which is V, L, I, M, A, or T with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • An alternative embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A2.1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, M, V, Q, I, A, or T at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, L, I, M, A, or T at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at positions one, three, and/or five for a residue which is Y, F or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions one, three, and/or five respectively is not the same as the exchanged residue at such a position; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is S, T or C with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue at position four; or
      • (c) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not A; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not P; or
      • (e) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (f) performing two or more of steps (a)-(e).
  • Further, an additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A2.1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, M, V, Q, I, A, or T at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, L, I, M, A, or T at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by seven residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is A, Y, F, or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is L, V, I, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at positions four and/or six for a residue which is G with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four and/or six respectively is not G; or
      • (d) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is F, Y, W, L, V, I or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (e) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (f) performing two or more of steps (a)-(e).
  • Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A24 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y, F, W or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, L, I, or W at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is Y, F, W or M with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging a primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus for a residue which is F, L, I, or W with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at the carboxyl terminus is not the same as the exchanged residue; or,
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • A further embodiment comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A24 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y, F, W or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, L, I, or W at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is Y, F, W, R, H, or K with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue at position one; or
      • (b) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is S, T, or C with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at positions seven and/or eight for a residue which is Y, F or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at positions seven and/or eight respectively is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven or eight; or
      • (d) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (e) performing two or more of steps (a)-(d).
  • An alternative embodiment of the invention includes a method comprises modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A24 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y, F, W, or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, L, I, or W at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by seven residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not P; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position five for a residue which is Y, F, W or P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position five is not the same as the exchanged residue at position five; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (d) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (e) performing two or more of steps (a)-(d).
  • An alternative embodiment of the invention includes a method comprising modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is S, T, or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is S, T, or M with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two.
  • Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is S, T, or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is G, F, W, or Y with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue at position one; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is D, E, or A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not the same as the exchanged residue at position three; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four and/or position eight for a residue which is Y, F, or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four and/or eight is not the same as the exchanged residue at position four and/or eight; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position six for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position six is not P; or
      • (e) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is D, E, Q, or N with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (f) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (e) performing two or more of steps (a)-(f).
  • An additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is S, T, or M at a position two and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by seven residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is Y, F, or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue at position one; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is D, E, A, Q, or N with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not the same as the exchanged residue at position three; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not A; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position five for a residue which is Y, F, W, Q, or N with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position five is not the same as the exchanged residue at position five; or
      • (e) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is P, A, S, T, or C with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (f) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is G, D, or E with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (g) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position nine for a residue which is P with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position nine is not P; or
      • (h) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (i) performing two or more of steps (a)-(h).
  • Further, a method of the invention comprises modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is D, E, A, or S at a position three and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by at least five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is D, E, A, or S with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position three is not the same as the exchanged residue at position three.
  • Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is D, E, A, or S at a position three and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by five residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is G, R, H, or K with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue at position one; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is A, S, T, C, L, I, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is G, S, T, or C with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue at position four; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position six for a residue which is A, S, T, or C with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position six is not the same as the exchanged residue at position six; or
      • (e) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is L, I, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (f) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is D or E with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not the same as the exchanged residue at position eight; or
      • (g) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (h) performing two or more of steps (a)-(g).
  • An alternative method of the invention comprises modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA A1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is D, E, A, or S at a position three and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is Y at a carboxyl terminus, wherein said residues are separated by six residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position one, position five, and/or position nine for a residue which is Y, F, or W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position one, position five, and/or position nine is not the same as the exchanged residue at position one, position five, or position nine; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is S, T, C, L, I, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position two is not the same as the exchanged residue at position two; or
      • (c) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not A; or
      • (d) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is P or G with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (e) exchanging a secondary anchor residue at position eight for a residue which is G with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position eight is not G; or
      • (f) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 138, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (g) performing two or more of steps (a)-(f).
  • An additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of an epitope that bears an HLA DR motif or supermotif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, I, V, M, F, W, or Y at a position one and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is C, S, T, P, A, L, I, V, or M at a position six, wherein said residues are separated by 4 residues and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is L, I, V, M, F, W, or Y, with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position six for a residue which is C, S, T, P, A, L, I, V, or M, with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position six is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (c) performing steps (a) and (b).
  • Alternative embodiments of the invention also include a method comprising of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA DR4 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, M, Y, L, I, V, or W at a position one and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, S, T, C, P, A, L, I, or M at a position six, wherein said residues are separated by four residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position two for a residue which is M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position two is not M; or
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is T with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not T; or
      • (c) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position five for a residue which is I with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position five is not I; or
      • (d) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is M or H with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not the same as the exchanged residue at position seven; or
      • (e) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 139, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (f) performing two or more of steps (a)-(e).
  • An additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA DR1 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, M, Y, L, I, V, or W at a position one and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is V, M, A, T, S, P, L, or I at a position six, wherein said residues are separated by four residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is P, A, M, or Q with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue at position four.
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position seven for a residue which is M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position seven is not M; or
      • (c) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position nine for a residue which is A, V, or M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position nine is not the same as the exchanged residue at position nine; or
      • (d) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 139, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (e) performing two or more of steps (a)-(d).
  • Further, an embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of a peptide epitope that bears an HLA DR7 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is F, M, Y, L, I, V, or W at a position one and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is I, V, M, S, A, C, T, P, or L at a position six, wherein said residues are separated by four residues, and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position two and/or position seven for a residue which M with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position two and/or seven is not M;
      • (b) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position three for a residue which is W with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position three is not M; or
      • (c) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is A with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position four is not A; or
      • (d) exchanging an original secondary anchor residue at position nine for a residue which is I or V with the proviso that the original secondary anchor residue at position nine is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (e) where the epitope bears at least one deleterious residue indicated for said motif in Table 139, exchanging said deleterious residue for a residue which is not a deleterious residue; or
      • (f) performing two or more of steps (a)-(e).
  • An additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of an epitope that bears an HLA DR3 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, I, V, M, F, or Y at a position one and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is D at a position four, wherein said residues are separated by two residues and wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is L, I, V, M, F, or Y, with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue.
  • Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying binding of an epitope that bears an HLA DR3 motif of a primary anchor amino acid residue which is L, I, V, M, F, A, or Y at a position 1 and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is D, N, Q, E, S, or T at a position four, and a primary anchor amino acid residue which is K, R, or H at a position six, wherein the amino acid positions are numbered consecutively from an amino to carboxyl orientation, said method comprising:
      • (a) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position one for a residue which is L, I, V, M, F, A, or Y with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position one is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (b) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position four for a residue which is D, N, Q, E, S, or T with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position four is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (c) exchanging an original primary anchor residue at position six for a residue which is K, R, or H with the proviso that the original primary anchor residue at position six is not the same as the exchanged residue; or
      • (d) performing two or more of steps (a)-(c).
  • Lastly, an additional embodiment of the invention comprises a method of modifying an epitope to alter its stability by exchanging a C residue for a residue which is α-amino butyric acid.
  • As will be apparent from the discussion below, other methods and embodiments are also contemplated. Further, novel synthetic peptides produced by any of the methods described herein are also part of the invention.
  • DEFINITIONS
  • The following definitions are provided to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to understand some of the preferred embodiments of invention disclosed herein. It is understood, however, that these definitions are exemplary only and should not be used to limit the scope of the invention as set forth in the claims. Those of ordinary skill in the art will be able to construct slight modifications to the definitions below and utilize such modified definitions to understand and practice the invention disclosed herein. Such modifications, which would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, as they may be applicable to the claims set forth below, are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. If a definition set forth in this section is contrary to or otherwise inconsistent with a definition set forth in patents, published patent applications and other publications and sequences from GenBank and other data bases that are herein incorporated by reference, the definition set forth in this section prevails over the definition that is incorporated herein by reference.
  • An “HLA supertype or family”, as used herein, describes sets of HLA molecules grouped on the basis of shared peptide-binding specificities, rather than serologic supertypes based on shared antigenic determinants. HLA class I molecules that share somewhat similar binding affinity for peptides bearing certain amino acid motifs are grouped into HLA supertypes. The terms “HLA superfamily,” “HLA supertype family,” “HLA family,” and “HLA xx-like molecules” (where xx denotes a particular HLA type), are synonyms.
  • An “HLA-A3-like” HLA molecule (also referred to as an allele as used herein refers to a group of HLA molecules encoded by HLA-A alleles that share an overlapping peptide binding motif with the HLA-A3 supermotif disclosed here. The 9 residue supermotif shared by these alleles comprises the following primary anchor residues: A, L, I, V, M, S, or, T at position 2 and positively charged residues, such as R and K at position 9 (the C-terminus in 9-mers). Exemplary members of this family, identified by either serology or DNA typing, include: A3 (A*0301), A11 (A*1101, A31 (A*3101), A*3301, and A*6801. Other members of the family include A34 A66 and A*7401. As explained in detail below, binding to each of the individual alleles can be finely modulated by substitutions at the secondary anchor positions.
  • The “HLA-A2-like” supertype is characterized by a preference for peptide ligands with small or aliphatic amino acids (L, 1, V, M A and T at position 2 and the C-terminus. The family is comprised of at least eight HLA-A alleles (A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0204, A*0205, A*0206, A*6802, and A*6901).
  • The “HLA-B7-like” supertype is comprised of products from at least a dozen HLA-B alleles (B7, B*3501-3, B51 B*5301 B*5401 B*5501 B*5502 B*5601 BB*6701, and B*7801) (Sidney, et al., J Immunol 154:247 (1995); Barber, et al., Curr Biol 5:179 (1995); Hill, et al., Nature 360:434 (1992); Rammensee et al. Immunogeneties 41:178 (1995)), and is characterized by molecules that recognize peptides bearing proline in position 2 and hydrophobic or aliphatic amino acids (L, I, V, W, and Y) at their C-terminus.
  • As used herein, the term “IC50” refers to the concentration of peptide in a binding assay at which 50% inhibition of binding of a reference peptide is observed. Depending on the conditions in which the assays are run (i.e., limiting MHC proteins and labeled peptide concentrations), these values may approximate KD values. It should be noted that IC50 values can change, often dramatically, if the assay conditions are varied, and depending on the particular reagents used (e.g., HLA preparation, etc.). For example, excessive concentrations of HLA molecules will increase the apparent measured IC50 of a given ligand.
  • Alternatively, binding is expressed relative to a reference peptide. As a particular assay becomes more, or less, sensitive, the IC50's of the peptides tested may change somewhat. However, the binding relative to the reference peptide will not change. For example, in an assay run under conditions such that the IC50 of the reference peptide increases 10-fold, the IC50 values of the test peptides will also shift approximately 10-fold. Therefore, to avoid ambiguities, the assessment of whether a peptide is a good, intermediate, weak, or negative binder is generally based on its IC50, relative to the IC50 of a standard peptide. The binding may be reported as a ratio or the ratio may be used to normalize the IC50 value as described in Example 1.
  • As used herein, “high affinity” with respect to peptide binding to HLA class I molecules is defined as binding with an KD (or IC50) of less than 50 nM. “Intermediate affinity” is binding with a KD (or IC50) of between about 50 and about 500 mM. As used herein, “high affinity” with respect to binding to HLA class II molecules is defined as binding with an KD (or IC50) of less than 100 nM. “Intermediate affinity” is binding with a KD (or IC50) of between about 100 and about 1000 nM. Assays for determining binding are described in detail, e.g., in PCT publications WO 94/20127 and WO 94/03205.
  • Binding may also be determined using other assay systems including those using: live cells (e.g., Ceppellini et al., Nature 339:392 (1989); Christnick et al., Nature 352:67 (1991); Busch et al., Int. Immunol. 2:443 (1990); Hill et al., J Immunol. 147:189 (1991); del Guercio et al., J Immunol. 154:685 (1995)), cell free systems using detergent lysates (e.g., Cerundolo et al., J Immunol. 21:2069 (1991)), immobilized purified MHC (e.g., Hill et al., J Immunol. 152, 2890 (1994); Marshall et al., J Immunol. 152:4946 (1994)), ELISA systems (e.g., Reay et al., EMBO J 11:2829 (1992)), surface plasmon resonance (e.g., Khilko et al., J Biol. Chem. 268:15425 (1993)); high flux soluble phase assays (Hammer et al., J. Exp. Med. 180:2353 (1994)), and measurement of class I MHC stabilization or assembly (e.g., Ljunggren et al., Nature 346:476 (1990); Schumacher et al., Cell 62:563 (1990); Townsend et al., Cell 62:285 (1990); Parker et al., J Immunol. 149:1896 (1992))
  • The relationship between binding affinity for MHC class I molecules and immunogenicity of discrete peptide epitopes has been analyzed in two different experimental approaches (Sette, et al., J. Immunol., 153:5586-92 (1994)). In the first approach, the immunogenicity of potential epitopes ranging in MHC binding affinity over a 10,000-fold range was analyzed in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. In the second approach, the antigenicity of approximately 100 different hepatitis B virus (HBV)-derived potential epitopes, all carrying A*0201 binding motifs, was assessed by using PBL of acute hepatitis patients. In both cases, it was found that an affinity threshold of approximately 500 nM (preferably 500 nM or less) determines the capacity of a peptide epitope to elicit a CTL response. These data correlate well with class I binding affinity measurements of either naturally processed peptides or previously described T cell epitopes. These data indicate the important role of determinant selection in the shaping of T cell responses.
  • The term “peptide” is used interchangeably with “oligopeptide” in the present specification to designate a series of residues, typically L-amino acids, connected one to the other typically by peptide bonds between the alpha-amino and carbonyl groups of adjacent amino acids. In certain embodiments, the oligopeptides of the invention are less than about 15 residues in length and usually consist of between about 8 and about 11 residues, preferably 9 or 10 residues. In certain embodiments, the oligopeptides are generally less than 250 amino acids in length, and can be less than 150, 100, 75, 50, 25, or 15 amino acids in length. Further, an oligopeptide of the invention can be such that it does not comprise more than 15 contiguous amino acids of a native antigen. The preferred CTL-inducing peptides of the invention are 13 residues or less in length and usually consist of between about 8 and about 11 residues, preferably 9 or 10 residues.
  • “Synthetic peptide” refers to a peptide that is not naturally occurring, but is man-made using such methods as chemical synthesis or recombinant DNA technology.
  • The nomenclature used to describe peptide compounds follows the conventional practice wherein the amino group is presented to the left (the N-terminus) and the carboxyl group to the right (the C-terminus) of each amino acid residue. In the formulae representing selected specific embodiments of the present invention, the amino- and carboxyl-terminal groups, although not specifically shown, are in the form they would assume at physiologic pH values, unless otherwise specified. In the amino acid structure formulae, each residue is generally represented by standard three letter or single letter designations. The L-form of an amino acid residue is represented by a capital single letter or a capital first letter of a three-letter symbol, and the D-form for those amino acids having D-forms is represented by a lower case single letter or a lower case three letter symbol. Glycine has no asymmetric carbon atom and is simply referred to as “Gly” or G. Symbols for each amino acids are shown below:
  • TABLE 1
    Amino acids with their abbreviations
    Amino acid Three letter code Single letter code
    Alanine Ala A
    Arginine Arg R
    Asparagine Asn N
    Aspartic acid Asp D
    Cysteine Cys C
    Glutamine Gln Q
    Glutamic acid Glu E
    Glycine Gly G
    Histidine His H
    Isoleucine Ile I
    Leucine Leu L
    Lysine Lys K
    Methionine Met M
    Phenylalanine Phe F
    Proline Pro P
    Serine Ser S
    Threonine Thr T
    Tryptophan Trp W
    Tyrosine Tyr Y
    Valine Val V
  • In some embodiments, as used herein, the term “peptide” is used interchangeably with “epitope” in the present specification to designate a series of residues, typically L-amino acids, connected one to the other, typically by peptide bonds between the α-amino and carboxyl groups of adjacent amino acids, that binds to a designated MHC allele.
  • With regard to a particular amino acid sequence, an “epitope” is a set of amino acid residues which is involved in recognition by a particular immunoglobulin, or in the context of T cells, those residues necessary for recognition by T cell receptor proteins and/or Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) receptors. In an immune system setting, in vivo or in vitro, an epitope is the collective features of a molecule, such as primary, secondary and tertiary peptide structure, and charge, that together form a site recognized by an immunoglobulin, T cell receptor or HLA molecule. Throughout this disclosure epitope and peptide are often used interchangeably.
  • It is to be appreciated that protein or peptide molecules that comprise an epitope of the invention as well as additional amino acid(s) are still within the bounds of the invention. In certain embodiments, there is a limitation on the length of a peptide of the invention. The embodiment that is length-limited occurs when the protein/peptide comprising an epitope of the invention comprises a region (i.e., a contiguous series of amino acids) having 100% identity with a native sequence. In order to avoid the definition of epitope from reading, e.g., on whole natural molecules, there is a limitation on the length of any region that has 100% identity with a native peptide sequence. Thus, for a peptide comprising an epitope of the invention and a region with 100% identity with a native peptide sequence, the region with 100% identity to a native sequence generally has a length of: less than or equal to 600 amino acids, often less than or equal to 500 amino acids, often less than or equal to 400 amino acids, often less than or equal to 250 amino acids, often less than or equal to 100 amino acids, often less than or equal to 85 amino acids, often less than or equal to 75 amino acids, often less than or equal to 65 amino acids, and often less than or equal to 50 amino acids. In certain embodiments, an “epitope” of the invention is comprised by a peptide having a region with less than 51 amino acids that has 100% identity to a native peptide sequence, in any increment down to 5 amino acids.
  • Accordingly, peptide or protein sequences longer than 600 amino acids are within the scope of the invention, so long as they do not comprise any contiguous sequence of more than 600 amino acids that have 100% identity with a native peptide sequence. For any peptide that has five contiguous residues or less that correspond to a native sequence, there is no limitation on the maximal length of that peptide in order to fall within the scope of the invention. It is presently preferred that a CTL epitope be less than 600 residues long in any increment down to eight amino acid residues.
  • A “dominant epitope” induces an immune response upon immunization with whole native antigens which comprise the epitope. (See, e.g., Sercarz, et al., Annu. Rev. Immunol. 11:729-766 (1993)). Such a response is cross-reactive in vitro with an isolated peptide epitope.
  • A “cryptic epitope” elicits a response by immunization with isolated peptide, but the response is not cross-reactive in vitro when intact whole protein which comprises the epitope is used as an antigen.
  • A “subdominant epitope” is an epitope which evokes little or no response upon immunization with whole antigens which comprise the epitope, but for which a response can be obtained by immunization in vivo or in vitro with an isolated epitope, and this response (unlike the case of cryptic epitopes) is detected when whole protein is used to recall the response in vitro.
  • A “pharmaceutical excipient” comprises a material such as an adjuvant, a carrier, pH-adjusting and buffering agents, tonicity adjusting agents, wetting agents, preservatives, and the like.
  • As used herein, the term “pharmaceutically acceptable” refers to a generally non-toxic, inert, and/or physiologically compatible composition.
  • As used herein, the term “protective immune response” or “therapeutic immune response” refers to a CTL and/or an HTL response to an antigen derived from an infectious agent or a tumor antigen, which in some way prevents or at least partially arrests disease symptoms, side effects or progression. The immune response may also include an antibody response that has been facilitated by the stimulation of helper T cells.
  • In certain embodiments, an “immunogenic peptide” is a peptide which comprises an allele-specific motif such that the peptide will bind an MHC (HLA) molecule and induce a CTL response. Immunogenic peptides of the invention are capable of binding to an appropriate class I MHC molecule (e.g., HLA-A2.1) and inducing a cytotoxic T cell response against the antigen from which the immunogenic peptide is derived.
  • An “immunogenic response” includes one that stimulates a CTL and/or HTL response in vitro and/or in vivo as well as modulates an ongoing immune response through directed induction of cell death (or apoptosis) in specific T cell populations.
  • In certain embodiments, an “immunogenic peptide” or “peptide epitope” is a peptide which comprises an allele-specific motif or supermotif such that the peptide will bind an HLA molecule and induce a CTL or HTL response. Thus, immunogenic peptides of the invention are capable of binding to an appropriate HLA molecule and thereafter inducing a cytotoxic T cell response, or a helper T cell response, to the antigen from which the immunogenic peptide is derived.
  • Immunogenic peptides of the invention are capable of binding to an appropriate HLA-A2 molecule and inducing a cytotoxic T-cell response against the antigen from which the immunogenic peptide is derived. The immunogenic peptides of the invention are less than about 15 residues in length, often less than 12 residues in length and usually consist of between about 8 and about 11 residues, preferably 9 or 10 residues.
  • The term “derived” when used to discuss an epitope is a synonym for “prepared.” A derived epitope can be isolated from a natural source, or it can be synthesized in accordance with standard protocols in the art. Synthetic epitopes can comprise artificial amino acids “amino acid mimetics,” such as D isomers of natural occurring L amino acids or non-natural amino acids such as cyclohexylalanine. A derived/prepared epitope can be an analog of a native epitope.
  • Immunogenic peptides are conveniently identified using the algorithms of the invention. The algorithms are mathematical procedures that produce a score which enables the selection of immunogenic peptides. Typically one uses the algorithmic score with a “binding threshold” to enable selection of peptides that have a high probability of binding at a certain affinity and will in turn be immunogenic. The algorithm is based upon either the effects on MHC binding of a particular amino acid at a particular position of a peptide or the effects on binding of a particular substitution in a motif containing peptide.
  • The term “residue” refers to an amino acid or amino acid mimetic incorporated into an oligopeptide by an amide bond or amide bond mimetic.
  • A “conserved residue” is an amino acid which occurs in a significantly higher frequency than would be expected by random distribution at a particular position in a peptide. Typically a conserved residue is one where the MHC structure may provide a contact point with the immunogenic peptide. At least one to three or more, preferably two, conserved residues within a peptide of defined length defines a motif for an immunogenic peptide. These residues are typically in close contact with the peptide binding groove, with their side chains buried in specific pockets of the groove itself. Typically, an immunogenic peptide will comprise up to three conserved residues, more usually two conserved residues.
  • Alternatively, a “conserved residue” is a conserved amino acid occupying a particular position in a peptide motif typically one where the MHC structure may provide a contact point with the immunogenic peptide. One to three, typically two, conserved residues within a peptide of defined length defines a motif for an immunogenic peptide. These residues are typically in close contact with the peptide binding groove, with their side chains buried in specific pockets of the groove itself.
  • A “primary anchor residue” is an amino acid at a specific position along a peptide sequence which is understood to provide a contact point between the immunogenic peptide and the HLA molecule. One to three, usually two, primary anchor residues within a peptide of defined length generally defines a “motif” for an immunogenic peptide. These residues are understood to fit in close contact with peptide binding grooves of an HLA molecule, with their side chains buried in specific pockets of the binding grooves themselves. For example, analog peptides have been created by altering the presence or absence of particular residues in these primary anchor positions. Such analogs are used to finely modulate the binding affinity of a peptide comprising a particular motif or supermotif. Typically, the primary anchor residues are located in the 2 and 9 position of 9 residue peptide.
  • A “secondary anchor residue” is an amino acid at a position other than a primary anchor position in a peptide. The secondary anchor residues are said to occur at secondary anchor positions. A secondary anchor residue occurs at a significantly higher frequency than would be expected by random distribution of amino acids at one position. A secondary anchor residue can be identified as a residue which is present at a higher frequency among high affinity binding peptides, or a residue otherwise associated with high affinity binding. For example, analog peptides have been created by altering the presence or absence of particular residues in these secondary anchor positions. Such analogs are used to finely modulate the binding affinity of a peptide comprising a particular motif or supermotif.
  • As used herein, “negative binding residues” or “deleterious” residues are amino acids which if present at certain positions (for example, positions 1, 3 and/or 7 of a 9-mer) (typically not primary anchor positions) will, in certain embodiments, result in decreased binding affinity for its target HLA molecule, and in certain embodiments, will result in a peptide being a nonbinder or poor binder and in turn fail to be immunogenic (i.e., induce a CTL response) or induce a CTL response despite the presence of the appropriate conserved residues within the peptide. For motif-bearing peptides, by definition negative residues will not be at primary anchor positions.
  • The term “motif” refers to the pattern of residues in a peptide of defined length, usually about 8 to about 11 amino acids, which is recognized by a particular MHC allele (one or more HLA molecules). The peptide motifs are typically different for each human MHC allele and differ in the pattern of the highly conserved residues and negative residues. Peptide motifs are often unique for the protein encoded by each human HLA allele, differing in their pattern of the primary and secondary anchor residues. Typically as used herein, a “motif” refers to that pattern of residues which is recognized by an HLA molecule encoded by a particular allele.
  • The binding motif for an allele can be defined with increasing degrees of precision. In one case, all of the conserved residues are present in the correct positions in a peptide and there are no negative residues in positions 1, 3 and/or 7.
  • The designation of a residue position in an epitope as the “carboxyl terminus” or the “carboxyl terminal position” refers to the residue position at the end of the epitope which is nearest to the carboxyl terminus of a peptide, which is designated using conventional nomenclature as defined below. The “carboxyl terminal position” of the epitope may or may not actually correspond to the end of the peptide or polypeptide.
  • The designation of a residue position in an epitope as “amino terminus” or “amino-terminal position” refers to the residue position at the end of the epitope which is nearest to the amino terminus of a peptide, which is designated using conventional nomenclature as defined below. The “amino terminal position” of the epitope may or may not actually correspond to the end of the peptide or polypeptide.
  • The term “tolerated residue” is a synonym for a “less preferred residue”. A “tolerated” residue refers to an anchor residue specific for a particular motif, the presence of which residue is correlated with suboptimal, but acceptable, binding to the particular HLA molecule.
  • A “motif bearing peptide” or “peptide which comprises a motif” refers to a peptide that comprises primary anchors specified for a given motif or supermotif.
  • In certain embodiments, a “supermotif” is a peptide binding specificity shared by HLA molecules encoded by two or more HLA alleles. Preferably, a supermotif-bearing peptide is recognized with high or intermediate affinity (as defined herein) by two or more HLA molecules or antigens.
  • Alternatively, the term “supermotif” refers to motifs that, when present in an immunogenic peptide, allow the peptide to bind more than one HLA antigen. The supermotif preferably is recognized with high or intermediate affinity (as defined herein) by at least one HLA allele having a wide distribution in the human population, preferably recognized by at least two alleles, more preferably recognized by at least three alleles, and most preferably recognized by more than three alleles.
  • “Human Leukocyte Antigen” or “HLA” is a human class I or class II Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) protein (see, Stites, et al., IMMUNOLOGY, 8TH ED., Lange Publishing, Los Altos, Calif. (1994).
  • “Major Histocompatibility Complex” or “MHC” is a cluster of genes which plays a role in control of the cellular interactions responsible for physiologic immune responses. In humans, the MHC complex is also known as the HLA complex. For a detailed description of the MHC and HLA complexes, see, Paul, FUNDAMENTAL IMMUNOLOGY, 3RD ED., Raven Press, New York, 1993.
  • “Heteroclitic analogs” are defined herein as a peptide with increased potency for a specific T cell, as measured by increased responses to a given dose, or by a requirement of lesser amounts to achieve the same response as a homologous native class I peptide. Advantages of heteroclitic analogs include that the antigens can be more potent, or more economical (since a lower amount is required to achieve the same effect as a homologous class I peptide). In addition, heteroclitic analogs are also useful to overcome antigen-specific T cell unresponsiveness (T cell tolerance).
  • The phrases “isolated” or “biologically pure” refer to material which is substantially or essentially free from components which normally accompany it as found in its native state. Thus, the peptides of this invention do not contain materials normally associated with their in situ environment, e.g., MHC I molecules on antigen presenting cells. Even where a protein has been isolated to a homogenous or dominant band, there are trace contaminants in the range of 5-10% of native protein which co-purify with the desired protein. Isolated peptides of this invention do not contain such endogenous co-purified protein.
  • “Peripheral blood mononuclear cells” (PBMCs) are cells found in from the peripheral blood of a patient. PBMCs comprise, e.g., CTLs and HTLs and antigen presenting cells. These cells can contact an antigen in vivo, or be obtained from a mammalian source and contacted with an antigen in vitro.
  • “Cross-reactive binding” indicates that a peptide is bound by more than one HLA molecule; a synonym is degenerate binding.
  • “Promiscuous recognition” is where the same peptide bound by different HLA molecules is recognized by the same T cell clone. It may also refer to the ability of a peptide to be recognized by a single T cell receptor in the context of multiple HLA alleles.
  • “Link” or “join” refers to any method known in the art for functionally connecting peptides, including, without limitation, recombinant fusion, covalent bonding, disulfide bonding, ionic bonding, hydrogen bonding, and electrostatic bonding.
  • A “non-native” sequence or “construct” refers to a sequence that is not found in nature, i.e., is “non-naturally occurring”. Such sequences include, e.g., peptides that are lipidated or otherwise modified, and polyepitopic compositions that contain epitopes that are not contiguous in a native protein sequence.
  • As used herein, a “vaccine” is a composition that contains one or more peptides of the invention, see, e.g., TABLE 2, TABLE 11, TABLE 12, TABLE 10, TABLE 11, TABLE 12, TABLE 13, TABLE 14, TABLE 15, TABLE 16, TABLE 17, TABLE 18, TABLE 19, and TABLE 20. There are numerous embodiments of vaccines in accordance with the invention, such as by a cocktail of one or more peptides; one or more peptides of the invention comprised by a polyepitopic peptide; or nucleic acids that encode such peptides or polypeptides, e.g., a minigene that encodes a polyepitopic peptide. The “one or more peptides” can include any whole unit integer from 1-150, e.g., at least 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, or 150 or more peptides of the invention. The peptides or polypeptides can optionally be modified, such as by lipidation, addition of targeting or other sequences. HLA class I-binding peptides of the invention can be linked to HLA class II-binding peptides, to facilitate activation of both cytotoxic T lymphocytes and helper T lymphocytes. Vaccines can comprise peptide pulsed antigen presenting cells, e.g., dendritic cells.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention relate in part to an epitope-based approach for vaccine design. Such an approach is based on the well-established finding that the mechanism for inducing CTL immune response comprises the step of presenting a CTL epitope as a peptide of about 8-11 amino acids bound to an HLA molecule displayed on an antigen-presenting cell. The HLA molecule is the product of a class I MHC wherein the product is expressed on most nucleated cells.
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention relate to the determination of allele-specific peptide motifs for human Class I (and class II) MHC (sometimes referred to as HLA) allele subtypes. These motifs are then used to define T cell epitopes from any desired antigen, particularly those associated with human viral diseases, cancers or autoimmune diseases, for which the amino acid sequence of the potential antigen or auto-antigen targets is known.
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention relate to peptides comprising allele-specific peptide motifs and supermotifs which bind to HLA class I and class II molecules, in particular, HLA-A3-like alleles. Such motifs (i.e., allele-specific motifs or supermotifs) are then used to identify, prepare and modify epitopes from a source protein which are recognized and bound by HLA molecules, e.g., to create analogs of any desired peptide antigen, particularly those associated with human cancers and precancerous conditions, and from infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoal parasite.
  • As noted above, high HLA binding affinity is correlated with higher immunogenicity. Higher immunogenicity can be manifested in several different ways. For instance, a higher binding peptide will be immunogenic more often. Close to 90% of high binding peptides are immunogenic, as contrasted with about 50% of the peptides which bind with intermediate affinity. A higher binding peptide will also lead to a more vigorous response. As a result, less peptide is required to elicit a similar biological effect. Thus, in some embodiments of the invention high binding epitopes are particularly desired.
  • In some embodiments of the invention, the identification of subdominant, as opposed to dominant epitopes is desired. In the nomenclature adopted here (see, Sercarz, et al., (1993), supra), a “dominant epitope” induces a response upon immunization with whole native antigens. Such a response is cross-reactive in vitro with the peptide epitope. A “cryptic epitope” elicits a response by peptide immunization, but is not cross-reactive in vitro when intact whole protein is used as an antigen. Finally, a “subdominant epitope” is an epitope which evokes little or no response upon immunization with whole antigens, but for which a response can be obtained by peptide immunization, and this response (unlike the case of cryptic epitopes) is detected when whole protein is used to recall the response in vitro.
  • HLA class I alleles have historically been classified based on serology or phylogenetic relationships, however, these alleles can be (re)classified into supertypes on the basis of their ligand specificity. At least two HLA class I supertypes, A2 and B7, have been identified. In certain embodiments, the HLA class I A3 supertype is disclosed and claimed herein.
  • It remains unknown how many supertypes will be identified and how inclusive they will be, data demonstrate that the phenomenon of cross-reactivity of peptide-binding specificities, previously thought to be restricted to HLA class II (Panina-Bordignon, et al., Eur J Immunol 19:2237 (1989); O'Sullivan, et al., J Immunol 145:1799 (1990); Busch, et al., Int Immunol 2:443 (1990)), is also a feature of peptide binding to HLA class I molecules. The availability of quantitative binding assays along with the detailed supermotifs disclosed herein allows the identification of highly cross-reactive peptides. This, in turn, allows for broad population coverage with a cocktail of a few CTL and/or HTL epitopes, a scenario of great significance for the use of epitope-based vaccines (Vitiello, et al., J Clin Invest 95:341 (1995)).
  • The data presented herein demonstrate that products from at least five different HLA alleles (A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801), and likely at least three others (A*3401, A*6601, and A*7401) predicted on the basis of pocket analysis (data not shown), are properly grouped into a single functional HLA A3 supertype. This determination was made on the basis of a number of observations. As a group, these molecules: (a) share certain key structural features within their peptide-binding regions; (b) have similar preferences for the primary anchor residues in the peptides they bind, i.e., a primary supermotif present in the peptides bound by the HLA molecules of the superfamily; and (c) share largely overlapping binding repertoires. Knowledge of the A3 supermotif allows for identification of a cross-reactive peptide for a source, and allows for production of peptide analogs by substituting at primary anchor positions to alter the binding properties of the peptides.
  • Furthermore, by examining the binding activity of a large panel of peptides bearing the primary A3 supermotif, an extended A3 supermotif was defined. This extended supermotif was based on a detailed map of the secondary anchor requirements for binding to molecules of the A3 supertype. The extended supermotif allows for the efficient prediction of cross-reactive binding of peptides to alleles of the A3 supertype by screening the native sequence of a particular antigen. This extended supermotif is also used to select analog options for peptides which bear amino acids defined by the primary supermotif.
  • By examining the binding activity of a large panel of peptides bearing anchor residues preferred by these allelic molecules, an A3-like supermotif was also defined. This supermotif, which is based on a detailed map of the secondary anchor requirements of each of the A3-like supertype molecules, allows for the efficient prediction of A3-like degenerate binding peptides. Finally, it was shown that the A3-like supertype, and supertypes in general, are represented with remarkably high phenotypic frequencies in all major ethnic groups. As such, HLA class I supertypes based on peptide-binding specificities represent a functional alternative to serologic and phylogenetic classification for understanding the relationships between HLA class I molecules. Besides their use for the generation of the A3-like supermotif, the individual secondary anchor maps disclosed in this study represent in themselves a significant contribution to the understanding of peptide binding to class I molecules. Because these maps were derived using peptides of homogeneous size, the preference determinations at each of the secondary positions may be more accurate than those derived from the sequencing of pools of naturally processed peptides. Also, the motifs defined herein allow the determination of residues which have deleterious effects on peptide binding.
  • Barber and co-workers (Barber, et al., Curr Biol 5:179 (1995)) have demonstrated that peptides could be recognized in the context of two molecules we have included in the HLA-B7-like supertype, and two other peptides have been reported as being recognized in the context of more than one A3-like allele (Missale, et al., J Exp Med 177:751 (1993); Koenig, et al., J Immunol 145:127 (1990); Culmann, et al., J Immunol 146:1560 (1991)) (see TABLE 142). Using a method for in vitro induction of primary CTLs (Wentworth, et al., Mol Immunol 32:603 (1995)) we observed several instances in which peptides can be recognized in the context of both A3 and A11. We tested the A3-like supertype restricted epitopes for binding capacity to A3-like supertype molecules, and noted relatively high levels of degeneracy. Of the seven epitopes listed in TABLE 142, only one was a nonamer that could be analyzed for the supermotif proposed in FIG. 40A (future studies will be aimed at extending the supermotif to peptides longer than 15 nine-mers). This peptide was supermotif positive, and bound three of five A3-like molecules. Nonetheless, it is important that each of the epitopes conformed to the A3-like supertype primary anchor specificities.
  • Comparison of the supertype classifications we have proposed on the basis of peptide binding with the classification of HLA-A alleles on the basis of DNA sequence (and serologic reactivity) relationships (Ishikawa, et al., Hum Immonol 39:220 (1994); Firgaira, et al., Immunogenetics 40:445 (1994); Karo, et al., J Immunol 143:3371 (1989)) reveals both similarities and differences. For example, HLA-A3 and A11 appear to be closely related and derived from a common ancestral gene (48-50). A31 and A33, however, derive from the ancient lineage comprising the A2/A10/A19 groups, which is different from the lineage of A3 and A11. Finally, HLA-A*6901 belongs to the A28 HLA evolutionary group [Fernandez-Viiia, et al., Hum Immunol 33:163 (1992); Ishikawa, et al., Hum Immonol 39:220 (1994); Lawlor, et al., Annu Rev Immunol 8:23 (1990)], which also contains the HLA-A*6802 and -A*6901 alleles. Yet, on the basis of their peptide-binding specificity, HLA A*6801 is a member of the A3-like supertype, whereas A*6802 and A*6901 have been demonstrated to belong to the A2-like supertype [del Guercio, et al., J Immunol 154:685 (1995)]. Thus, based on the available phylogenetic tree of HLA alleles [Ishikawa, et al., Hum Immonol 39:220 (1994); Firgaira, et al., Immunogenetics 40:445 (1994); Karo, et al., Immunol 143:3371 (1989)], A3-like alleles are found in both of the ancient HLA lineages: A11A9 which includes A3 and A11, and A21A 101A which includes A31, A33, and A*6801. If the existence of the HLA-A3-like supertype is reflective of common ancestry, then the A3-like motif might in fact represent primeval human HLA class I peptide-binding specificity, and other specificities may represent adaptations to changing pathogenic environments.
  • The discovery of the individual residues of the secondary anchor motif disclosed herein represents a significant contribution to the understanding of peptide binding to class I molecules. These secondary anchor maps were derived using peptides of homogeneous size. Thus, the preference determinations at each of the secondary positions may be more accurate than those derived from the sequencing of pools of naturally processed peptides. Also, the motifs defined herein allow the determination of residues which have deleterious or other types of effects on peptide binding.
  • The definition of primary and secondary anchor specificities for the A3 supertype provides guidance for modulating the binding activity of peptides that bind to members of the A3 supertype family. This information may be used to generate highly cross-reactive epitopes by identifying residues within a native peptide sequence that can be analogued to increase greater binding cross-reactivity within a supertype, or analogued to increase immunogenicity.
  • The phenomena of HLA supertypes may be related to optimal exploitation of the peptide specificity of human transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) molecules (Androlewicz, et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:9130 (1993); Androlewicz, et al., Immunity 1:7 (1994); van Endert, et al., Immunity 1:491 (1994); Heemels, et al., Immunity 1:775 (1994); Momburg, et al., Curr. Opin. Immunol. 6:32 (1994); Neefjes, et al., Science 261:769 (1993)). The TAP molecules have been shown to preferentially transport peptides with certain sequence features such as hydrophobic, aromatic, or positively charged C-termini.
  • Recent studies, performed by van Endert and associates, in collaboration with the present inventors, evaluated the relative affinities for TAP of a large collection of peptides, and have described an extended TAP binding motif (Van Endert et al. J. Exp. Med. 182:1883 (1995)) Strikingly, this tap motif contains many of the structural features associated with the A3 extended supermotif, such as the preference for aromatic residues at positions 3 and 7 of nonamer peptides and the absence of negatively charged residues at positions 1 and 3, and P at position 1.
  • The preparation and evaluation of motif-bearing peptides are described in PCT publications WO 94/20127 and WO 94/03205. Briefly, peptides from a particular antigen are synthesized and tested for their ability to bind to HLA proteins in assays using, for example, purified HLA class I molecules and radioiodinated peptides and/or cells expressing empty class I molecules (which lack peptide in their receptor) by, for instance, immunofluorescent staining and flow microfluorimetry, peptide-dependent class I assembly assays, and inhibition of CTL recognition by peptide competition. Those peptides that bind to the class I molecule are further evaluated for their ability to serve as targets for CTLs derived from infected or immunized individuals, as well as for their capacity to induce primary in vitro or in vivo CTL responses that can give rise to CTL populations capable of reacting with selected target cells associated with a disease.
  • The concept of dominance and subdominance is relevant to immunotherapy of infectious diseases and cancer. For example, in the course of chronic viral disease, recruitment of subdominant epitopes can be crucial for successful clearance of the infection, especially if dominant CTL specificities have been inactivated by functional tolerance, suppression, mutation of viruses and other mechanisms (Franco, et al., Curr. Opin. Immunol. 7:524-531, (1995)). Furthermore, in the case of cancer and tumor antigens, it appears that CTLs recognizing at least some of the highest binding affinity peptides might have been functionally inactivated by tolerance and suppression, and that lower binding affinity peptides are preferentially recognized.
  • In particular, it has been noted that a significant number of epitopes derived from known non-viral tumor associated antigens (TAA) bind HLA Class I with intermediate affinity (IC50 in the 50-500 mM range). It has been found that 8 of 15 known TAA peptides recognized by tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) or CTL bound in the 50-500, mM range. These data are in contrast with estimates that 90% of known viral antigens that were recognized as peptides bound HLA with IC50 of 50 IM or less while only approximately 10% bound in the 50-500 mM range (Sette, et al., J. Immunol., 153:5586-5592 (1994)). This phenomenon is probably due in the cancer setting to elimination, or functional inhibition of the CTL recognizing several of the highest binding peptides, presumably because of T cell tolerization events.
  • The present invention provides methods for modulating binding affinity of immunogenic peptides by selection of desired residues in the primary and secondary anchor positions. As explained in detail below, a supermotif for enhanced binding to A3 like alleles is provided here. Depending on the desired affect on binding affinity, the anchor residues in a desired peptide are substituted. Examples of modulations that may be achieved using the present invention include increased affinity for a particular allele (e.g., by substitution of secondary anchor residues specific for the allele), increased cross-reactivity among different alleles (e.g., by substitution of secondary anchor residues shared by more than one allele), and production of a subdominant epitope (e.g., by substitution of residues which increase affinity but are not present on the immunodominant epitope).
  • Thus, in some embodiments of the invention, the identification of subdominant, as opposed to dominant epitopes is desired. In a preferred embodiment, these subdominant epitopes can then be engineered to increase HLA binding affinity. As noted herein, higher HLA binding affinity is correlated with greater immunogenicity. Greater immunogenicity can be manifested in several different ways. Close to 90% of “high” binding peptides have been found to be immunogenic, as contrasted with about 50% of the peptides which bind with “intermediate” affinity. Moreover, higher binding affinity peptides lead to more vigorous immunogenic responses. As a result, less peptide is required to elicit a similar biological effect. Thus, in preferred embodiments of the invention, high binding epitopes are particularly desired.
  • Epitope-bearing peptides in accordance with the invention can be prepared synthetically, by recombinant DNA technology, or from natural sources such as whole viruses or tumors. Although the peptide will preferably be substantially free of other naturally occurring host cell proteins and fragments thereof, in some embodiments the peptides are synthetically conjugated to native molecules or particles; the peptides can also be conjugated to non-native molecules or particles.
  • The peptides in accordance with the invention can be a variety of lengths, and either in their neutral (uncharged) forms or in forms which are salts. The peptides in accordance with the invention are either free of modifications such as glycosylation, side chain oxidation, or phosphorylation; or they contain these modifications.
  • Desirably, the epitope-bearing peptide will be as small as possible while still maintaining relevant immunologic activity of the large peptide; of course it is particularly desirable with peptides from pathogenic organisms that the peptide be small in order to avoid pathogenic function. When possible, it may be desirable to optimize epitopes of the invention to a length of about 8 to about 13, preferably 9 to 10 amino acid residues for a class I molecule and about 6 to about 25 amino acid residues for a class II molecules. Preferably, the peptides are commensurate in size with endogenously processed viral peptides or tumor cell peptides that are bound to HLA class I or class II molecules on the cell surface. Nevertheless, the identification and preparation of peptides of other lengths can be carried out using the techniques described here such as the disclosures of primary anchor positions. It is to be appreciated that peptide epitopes in accordance with the invention can be present in peptides or proteins that are longer than the epitope itself. Moreover, multiepitopic peptides can comprise at least one epitope of the invention along with other epitope(s).
  • In particular, the invention provides motifs that are common to peptides bound by more than one HLA allele. By a combination of motif identification and MHC-peptide interaction studies, peptides useful for peptide vaccines have been identified.
  • Peptides comprising the epitopes from these antigens are synthesized and then tested for their ability to bind to the appropriate MHC molecules in assays using, for example, purified class I molecules and radioiodinated peptides and/or cells expressing empty class I molecules by, for instance, immunofluorescent staining and flow microfluorometry, peptide-dependent class I assembly assays, and inhibition of CTL recognition by peptide competition. Those peptides that bind to the class I molecule are further evaluated for their ability to serve as targets for CTLs derived from infected or immunized individuals, as well as for their capacity to induce primary in vitro or in vivo CTL responses that can give rise to CTL populations capable of reacting with virally infected target cells or tumor cells as potential therapeutic agents.
  • The (HLA) MHC class I antigens (i.e., the products of the MHC class I alleles) are encoded by the HLA-A, B, and C loci. HLA-A and B antigens are expressed at the cell surface at approximately equal densities, whereas the expression of HLA-C is significantly lower (perhaps as much as 10-fold lower). Each of these loci have a number of alleles (i.e., a multiplicity of allelic variants) in the population. Indeed, there are believed to be well over 500 class I and class II alleles. The peptide binding motifs of the invention are relatively specific for each allelic subtype.
  • Since a cytotoxic T-cell response cannot be elicited unless the epitope is presented by the class I HLA contained on the surface of the cells of the individual to be immunized, it is important that the epitope be one that is capable of binding the HLA exhibited by that individual.
  • The starting point, therefore, for the design of effective vaccines is to ensure that the vaccine will generate a large number of epitopes that can successfully be presented. It may be possible to administer the peptides representing the epitopes per se. Such administration is dependent on the presentation of “empty” HLA molecules displayed on the cells of the subject. In one approach to use of the immunogenic peptides per se, these peptides may be incubated with antigen-presenting cells from the subject to be treated ex vivo and the cells then returned to the subject.
  • Alternatively, the 8-11 amino acid peptide can be generated in situ by administering a nucleic acid containing a nucleotide sequence encoding it. Means for providing such nucleic acid molecules are described in WO99/58658, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. Further, the immunogenic peptides can be administered as portions of a larger peptide molecule and cleaved to release the desired peptide. The larger peptide may contain extraneous amino acids, in general the fewer the better. Thus, peptides which contain such amino acids are typically 25 amino acids or less, more typically 20 amino acids or less, and more typically 15 amino acids or less. The precursor may also be a heteropolymer or homopolymer containing a multiplicity of different or same CTL epitopes. Of course, mixtures of peptides and nucleic acids which generate a variety of immunogenic peptides can also be employed. The design of the peptide vaccines, the nucleic acid molecules, or the hetero- or homo-polymers is dependent on the inclusion of the desired epitope. Thus, in certain embodiments, the present invention provides a paradigm for identifying the relevant epitope which is effective across the broad population range of individuals who are characterized by the A2 supertype. The following pages describe the methods and results of experiments for identification of the A2 supermotif, and other motifs and supermotifs.
  • In certain embodiments, it is preferred that peptides include an epitope that binds to an HLA-A2 supertype allele. These motifs may be used to define T-cell epitopes from any desired antigen, particularly those associated with human viral diseases, cancers or autoimmune diseases, for which the amino acid sequence of the potential antigen or autoantigen targets is known.
  • Epitopes on a number of potential target proteins can be identified based upon HLA binding motifs. Examples of suitable antigens include TRP1, prostate cancer-associated antigens such as prostate specific antigen (PSA), human kallikrein (huK2), prostate specific membrane antigen (PSM), and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), antigens from viruses such as hepatitis B (e.g., hepatitis B core and surface antigens (HBVc, HBVs)), hepatitis C antigens, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigens, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antigens, human papilloma virus (HPV) antigens, Kaposi's sarcoma virus (KSHV), influenza virus, Lassa virus, melanoma antigens (e.g., MAGE-1, MAGE2, and MAGE3) Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT) antigens, p53, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), trypanosome, e.g., Trypansoma cruzi (T. cruzi), antigens such as surface antigen (TSA), Her2/neu, and malaria antigens. Examples of suitable fungal antigens include those derived from Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Coccidoides spp., Histoplasma spp, and Aspergillus fumigatis. Examples of suitable protozoal parasitic antigens include those derived from Plasmodium spp., Trypanosoma spp., Schistosoma spp., Leishmania spp and the like. Examples of suitable bacterial antigens include those derived from Mycobacterium spp., Chlamydiaceae spp, and the like.
  • The peptides are thus useful in pharmaceutical compositions for both in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
  • Autoimmune associated disorders for which the peptides of the invention may be employed to relieve the symptoms of, treat or prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of include, for example, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, myasthenia gravis (MG), bullous pemphigoid (antibodies to basement membrane at dermal-epidermal junction), pemphigus (antibodies to mucopolysaccharide protein complex or intracellular cement substance), glomerulonephritis (antibodies to glomerular basement membrane), Goodpasture's syndrome, autoimmune hemolytic anemia (antibodies to erythrocytes), Hashimoto's disease (antibodies to thyroid), pernicious anemia (antibodies to intrinsic factor), idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (antibodies to platelets), Grave's disease, and Addison's disease (antibodies to thyroglobulin), and the like.
  • The autoantigens associated with a number of these diseases have been identified. For example, in experimentally induced autoimmune diseases, antigens involved in pathogenesis have been characterized: in arthritis in rat and mouse, native type-II collagen is identified in collagen-induced arthritis, and mycobacterial heat shock protein in adjuvant arthritis; thyroglobulin has been identified in experimental allergic thyroiditis (EAT) in mouse; acetyl choline receptor (AChR) in experimental allergic myasthenia gravis (EAMG); and myelin basic protein (MBP) and proteolipid protein (PLP) in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mouse and rat. In addition, target antigens have been identified in humans: type-II collagen in human rheumatoid arthritis; and acetyl choline receptor in myasthenia gravis.
  • Without wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that the presentation of antigen by HLA Class I mediates suppression of autoreactive T cells by CD8+ suppressor T cells (see, e.g., Jiang, et al. Science, 256:1213 (1992)). Such suppressor T cells release cytokines such as transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), which specifically inhibit the autoreactive T cells. Miller, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 89:421-425 (1992).
  • Peptides comprising the epitopes from these antigens may be synthesized and then tested for their ability to bind to the appropriate MHC molecules in assays using, for example, purified class I molecules and radioiodonated peptides and/or cells expressing empty class I molecules by, for instance, immunofluorescent staining and flow microfluorometry, peptide-dependent class I assembly assays, and inhibition of CTL recognition by peptide competition. Those peptides that bind to the class I molecule may be further evaluated for their ability to serve as targets for CTLs derived from infected or immunized individuals, as well as for their capacity to induce primary in vitro or in vivo CTL responses that can give rise to CTL populations capable of reacting with virally infected target cells or tumor cells as potential therapeutic agents.
  • Recent evidence suggests however, that high affinity MHC binders might be, in most instances, immunogenic, suggesting that peptide epitopes might be selected on the basis of MHC binding alone.
  • Peptides comprising the supermotif sequences can be identified, as noted above, by screening potential antigenic sources. Useful peptides can also be identified by synthesizing peptides with systematic or random substitution of the variable residues in the supermotif, and testing them according to the assays provided. As demonstrated below, it is useful to refer to the sequences of the target HLA molecule, as well.
  • For epitope-based vaccines, the peptides of the present invention preferably comprise a supermotif and/or motif recognized by an HLA I or HLA II molecule having a wide distribution in the human population. TABLE 22 shows the distribution of certain HLA alleles in human populations. Since the MHC alleles occur at different frequencies within different ethnic groups and races, the choice of target MHC allele may depend upon the target population. TABLE 69 shows the frequency of various alleles at the HLA-A locus products among different races. For instance, the majority of the Caucasoid population can be covered by peptides which bind to four HLA-A allele subtypes, specifically HLA-A2.1, A1, A3.2, and A24.1. Similarly, the majority of the Asian population is encompassed with the addition of peptides binding to a fifth allele HLA-A 1.2.
  • The nomenclature used to describe peptide compounds follows the conventional practice wherein the amino group is presented to the left (the N-terminus) and the carboxyl group to the right (the C-terminus) of each amino acid residue. In the formulae representing selected specific embodiments of the present invention, the amino- and carboxyl-terminal groups, although not specifically shown, are in the form they would assume at physiologic pH values, unless otherwise specified. In the amino acid structure formulae, each residue is generally represented by standard three letter or single letter designations. The L-form of an amino acid residue is represented by a capital single letter or a capital first letter of a three-letter symbol, and the D-form for those amino acids having D-forms is represented by a lower case single letter or a lower case three letter symbol. Glycine has no asymmetric carbon atom and is simply referred to as “Gly” or G. The letter X in a motif represents any of the 20 amino acids found in TABLE 72, as well non-naturally occurring amino acids or amino acid mimetics. Brackets surrounding more than one amino acid indicates that the motif includes any one of the amino acids. For example, the supermotif “N-XPXXXXXX(A,V,I,L,M)-C (SEQ ID NO:______)” includes each of the following peptides: N-XPXXXXXXA-C (SEQ ID NO:______), N-XPXXXXXXV-C (SEQ ID NO:______), N-XPXXXXXXI-C (SEQ ID NO:______), N-XPXXXXXXL-C (SEQ ID NO:______), and N-XPXXXXXXM-C (SEQ ID NO:______).
  • The large degree of HLA polymorphism is an important factor to be taken into account with the epitope-based approach to vaccine development. To address this factor, epitope selection encompassing identification of peptides capable of binding at high or intermediate affinity to multiple HLA molecules is preferably utilized, most preferably these epitopes bind at high or intermediate affinity to two or more allele-specific HLA molecules.
  • CTL-inducing peptides of interest for vaccine compositions preferably include those that have an IC50 or binding affinity value for a class HLA molecule(s) of 500 nM or better (i.e., the value is 500 nM or less) or, for class II HLA molecules, 1000 mM or better (i.e., the value is greater than or equal to 1000 nM). For example, peptide binding is assessed by testing the capacity of a candidate peptide to bind to a purified HLA molecule in vitro. Peptides exhibiting high or intermediate affinity are then considered for further analysis. Selected peptides are generally tested on other members of the supertype family. In preferred embodiments, peptides that exhibit cross-reactive binding are then used in cellular screening analyses or vaccines.
  • The relationship between binding affinity for HLA class I molecules and immunogenicity of discrete peptide epitopes on bound antigens was determined for the first time in the art by the present inventors. As disclosed in greater detail herein, higher HLA binding affinity is correlated with greater immunogenicity.
  • Greater immunogenicity can be manifested in several different ways. Immunogenicity corresponds to whether an immune response is elicited at all, and to the vigor of any particular response, as well as to the extent of a population in which a response is elicited. For example, a peptide might elicit an immune response in a diverse array of the population, yet in no instance produce a vigorous response. In accordance with these principles, close to 90% of high binding peptides have been found to elicit a response and thus be “immunogenic,” as contrasted with about 50% of the peptides that bind with intermediate affinity (see, e.g., Schaeffer et al. PNAS (1988)). Moreover, not only did peptides with higher binding affinity have an enhanced probability of generating an immune response, the generated response tended to be more vigorous than the response seen with weaker binding peptides. As a result, less peptide is required to elicit a similar biological effect if a high affinity binding peptide is used rather than a lower affinity one. Thus, in preferred embodiments of the invention, high affinity binding epitopes are used.
  • The correlation between binding affinity and immunogenicity was analyzed by the present inventors by two different experimental approaches (see, e.g., Sette, et al., J Immunol. 153:5586-5592 (1994)). In the first approach, the immunogenicity of potential epitopes ranging in HLA binding affinity over a 10,000-fold range was analyzed in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. In the second approach, the antigenicity of approximately 100 different hepatitis B virus (HBV)-derived potential epitopes, all carrying A*0201 binding motifs, was assessed by using PBL from acute hepatitis patients. Pursuant to these approaches, it was determined that an affinity threshold value of approximately 500 nM (preferably 50 nM or less) determines the capacity of a peptide epitope to elicit a CTL response. These data are true for class I binding affinity measurements for naturally processed peptides and for synthesized T cell epitopes. These data also indicate the important role of determinant selection in the shaping of T cell responses (see, e.g., Schaeffer et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:4649-4653 (1989)).
  • Peptides of the present invention may also comprise epitopes that bind to HLA class II molecules (HLA class II molecules are also referred to as MHC-DR molecules). An affinity threshold associated with immunogenicity in the context of HLA class II DR molecules has also been delineated (see, e.g., Southwood et al. J. Immunology 160:3363-73, 1998, and WO99/61916). In order to define a biologically significant threshold of DR binding affinity, a database of the binding affinities of 32 DR-restricted epitopes for their restricting element (i.e., the HLA molecule that binds the motif) was compiled. In approximately half of the cases (15 of 32 epitopes), DR restriction was associated with high binding affinities, i.e. binding affinity values of 100 nM or less (in some embodiments, the binding affinity value was less than 100 nM). In the other half of the cases (16 of 32), DR restriction was associated with intermediate affinity (binding affinity values in the 100-1000 nM range). In only one of 32 cases was DR restriction associated with an IC50 of 1000 nM or greater. Thus, 1000 nM can be defined as an affinity threshold associated with immunogenicity in the context of DR molecules. Thus, as seen with HLA class I molecules, an affinity threshold associated with immunogenicity is defined for epitopes recognized by HLA class II molecules.
  • Definition of motifs that are predictive of binding to specific class I and class II alleles allows the identification of potential peptide epitopes from an antigenic protein whose amino acid sequence is known. Typically, identification of potential peptide epitopes is initially carried out using a computer to scan the amino acid sequence of a desired antigen for the presence of motifs and/or supermotifs.
  • Definition of motifs specific for different class I alleles allows the identification of potential peptide epitopes from an antigenic protein whose amino acid sequence is known. Typically, identification of potential peptide epitopes is initially carried out using a computer to scan the amino acid sequence of a desired antigen for the presence of motifs. The epitopic sequences are then synthesized. The capacity to bind MHC Class I molecules is measured in a variety of different ways. One means is a Class I molecule binding assay as described in the related applications, noted above. Other alternatives described in the literature include inhibition of antigen presentation (Sette, et al., J Immunol. 141:3893 (1991), in vitro assembly assays (Townsend, et al., Cell 62:285 (1990), and FACS based assays using mutated cells, such as RMA-S (Melief, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963 (1991)).
  • In the typical case, immunoprecipitation is used to isolate the desired allele. A number of protocols can be used to isolate HLA molecules for use in in binding assays, depending upon the specificity of the antibodies used. For example, allele-specific mAb reagents can be used for the affinity purification of the HLA-A, HLA-B1, and HLA-C molecules. Several mAb reagents for the isolation of HLA-A molecules are available (see TABLE 4, TABLE 71, and TABLE 24). The monoclonal BB7.2 is suitable for isolating HLA-A2 molecules. Thus, for each of the targeted HLA-A alleles, reagents are available that may be used for the direct isolation of the HLA-A molecules. Affinity columns prepared with these mAbs using standard techniques are successfully used to purify the respective HLA-A allele products. In addition to allele-specific mAbs, broadly reactive anti-HLA-A, B, C mAbs, such as W6/32 and B9.12.1, and one anti-HLA-B, C mAb, B1.23.2, could be used in alternative affinity purification protocols as described in previous applications or in the examples section below.
  • The procedures used to identify peptides of the present invention generally follow the methods disclosed in Falk et al., Nature 351:290 (1991), which is incorporated herein by reference. Briefly, the methods involve large-scale isolation of MHC class I molecules, typically by immunoprecipitation or affinity chromatography, from the appropriate cell or cell line. Examples of other methods for isolation of the desired MHC molecule equally well known to the artisan include ion exchange chromatography, lectin chromatography, size exclusion, high performance ligand chromatography, and a combination of all of the above techniques.
  • The peptides bound to the peptide binding groove of the isolated MHC molecules are eluted typically using acid treatment. Peptides can also be dissociated from class I molecules by a variety of standard denaturing means, such as heat, pH, detergents, salts, chaotropic agents, or a combination thereof.
  • Peptide fractions are further separated from the MHC molecules by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and sequenced. Peptides can be separated by a variety of other standard means well known to the artisan, including filtration, ultrafiltration, electrophoresis, size chromatography, precipitation with specific antibodies, ion exchange chromatography, isoelectrofocusing, and the like.
  • Sequencing of the isolated peptides can be performed according to standard techniques such as Edman degradation (Hunkapiller, M. W., et al. Methods Enzymol. 91, 399 [1983]). Other methods suitable for sequencing include mass spectrometry sequencing of individual peptides as previously described (Hunt, et al., Science 225:1261 (1992), which is incorporated herein by reference). Amino acid sequencing of bulk heterogenous peptides (e.g., pooled HPLC fractions) from different class I molecules typically reveals a characteristic sequence motif for each class I allele.
  • Upon identification of motif-bearing sequences, peptides corresponding to the sequences are then synthesized and, typically, evaluated for binding to the corresponding HLA allele. The capacity to bind MHC Class molecules is measured in a variety of different ways. One means is a Class I molecule binding assay as described in the related applications, noted above. Other alternatives described in the literature include inhibition of antigen presentation (Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 141:3893 (1991), in vitro assembly assays (Townsend, et al., Cell 62:285 (1990), and FACS based assays using mutated ells, such as RMA-S (Melief, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963 (1991)).
  • Next, peptides that test positive in the MHC class I binding assay are assayed for the ability of the peptides to induce specific CTL (or HTL, for class II motif-bearing peptides) responses in vitro. For instance, antigen-presenting cells that have been incubated with a peptide can be assayed for the ability to induce CTL responses in responder cell populations. Antigen-presenting cells can be normal cells such as peripheral blood mononuclear cells or dendritic cells (Inaba, et al., J. Exp. Med. 166:182 (1987); Boog, Eur. J. Immunol. 18:219 [1988]). Alternatively, transgenic mice comprising an appropriate HLA transgene can be used to assay the ability of a peptide to induce a response in cytotoxic T lymphocytes essentially as described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/205,713.
  • Definition of motifs specific for different class I alleles allows the identification of potential peptide epitopes from an antigenic protein whose amino acid sequence is known. Typically, identification of potential peptide epitopes is initially carried out using a computer to scan the amino acid sequence of a desired antigen for the presence of motifs.
  • Following identification of motif-bearing epitopes, the epitopic sequences are then synthesized. The capacity to bind MHC Class molecules is measured in a variety of different ways. One means is a Class I molecule binding assay as described in the related applications, noted below. Other alternatives described in the literature include inhibition of antigen presentation (Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 141:3893 (1991), in vitro assembly assays (Townsend, et al., Cell 62:285 (1990), and FACS based assays using mutated cells, such as RMA.S (Melief, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963 (1991)).
  • As disclosed herein, higher HLA binding affinity is correlated with greater immunogenicity. Greater immunogenicity can be manifested in several different ways. Immunogenicity can correspond to whether an immune response is elicited at all, and to the vigor of any particular response, as well as to the extent of a diverse population in which a response is elicited. For example, a peptide might elicit an immune response in a diverse array of the population, yet in no instance produce a vigorous response. In accordance with the principles disclosed herein, close to 90% of high binding peptides have been found to be immunogenic, as contrasted with about 50% of the peptides which bind with intermediate affinity. Moreover, higher binding affinity peptides lead to more vigorous immunogenic responses. As a result, less peptide is required to elicit a similar biological effect if a high affinity binding peptide is used. Thus, in preferred embodiments of the invention, high affinity binding epitopes are particularly useful. Nevertheless, substantial improvements over the prior art are achieved with intermediate or high binding peptides.
  • The relationship between binding affinity for HLA class I molecules and immunogenicity of discrete peptide epitopes has been determined for the first time in the art by the present inventors. In these experiments, in which discrete peptides were referred to, it is to be noted that cellular processing of peptides in vivo will lead to such peptides even if longer fragments are used. Accordingly, longer peptides comprising one or more epitopes are within the scope of the invention. The correlation between binding affinity and immunogenicity was analyzed in two different experimental approaches (Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 153:5586-5592, 1994). In the first approach, the immunogenicity of potential epitopes ranging in HLA binding affinity over a 10,000-fold range was analyzed in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. In the second approach, the antigenicity of approximately 100 different hepatitis B virus (HBV)-derived potential epitopes, all carrying A*0201 binding motifs, was assessed by using PBL (peripheral blood lymphocytes) from acute hepatitis patients. Pursuant to these approaches, it was determined that an affinity threshold value of approximately 500 nM (preferably 50 nM or less) is correlated with the capacity of a peptide epitope to elicit a CTL response. These data are true for class I binding affinity measurements for naturally processed peptides and for synthesized T-cell epitopes. These data also indicate the important role of determinant selection in the shaping of T-cell responses (see, e.g., Schaeffer, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:4649-4653, 1989).
  • Accordingly, CTL-inducing peptides preferably include those that have an IC50 for class I HLA molecules of 500 nM or less. In the case of motif-bearing peptide epitopes from tumor associated antigens, a binding affinity threshold of 200 nM has been shown to be associated with killing of tumor cells by resulting CTL populations.
  • In a preferred embodiment, following assessment of binding activity for an HLA-A2 allele-specific molecule, peptides exhibiting high or intermediate affinity are then considered for further analysis. Selected peptides may be tested on other members of the supertype family. In preferred embodiments, peptides that exhibit cross-reactive binding are then used in vaccines or in cellular screening analyses.
  • For example, peptides that test positive in the HLA-A2 (or other MHC class I) binding assay, i.e., that have binding affinity values of 500 nM or less, are assayed for the ability of the peptides to induce specific CTL responses in vitro. For instance, antigen-presenting cells that have been incubated with a peptide can be assayed for the ability to induce CTL responses in responder cell populations. Antigen-presenting cells can be normal cells such as peripheral blood mononuclear cells or dendritic cells (Inaba, et al., J. Exp. Med. 166:182 (1987); Boog, Eur. J. Immunol. 18:219 [1988]).
  • Alternatively, mutant mammalian cell lines that are deficient in their ability to load class I molecules with internally processed peptides, such as the mouse cell lines RMA-S (Kärre, et al. Nature, 319:675 (1986); Ljunggren, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963-2970 (1991)), and the human somatic T cell hybrid, T-2 (Cerundolo, et al., Nature 345:449-452 (1990)) and which have been transfected with the appropriate human class I genes are conveniently used, when peptide is added to them, to test for the capacity of the peptide to induce in vitro primary CTL responses. Other eukaryotic cell lines which could be used include various insect cell lines such as mosquito larvae (ATCC cell lines CCL 125, 126, 1660, 1591, 6585, 6586), silkworm (ATTC CRL 8851), armyworm (ATCC CRL 1711), moth (ATCC CCL 80) and Drosophila cell lines such as a Schneider cell line (see Schneider J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol. 27:353-65 [1927]). That have been transfected with the appropriate human class I MHC allele encoding genes and the human B2 microglobulin genes.
  • Peripheral blood lymphocytes are conveniently isolated following simple venipuncture or leukapheresis of normal donors or patients and used as the responder cell sources of CTL precursors. In one embodiment, the appropriate antigen-presenting cells are incubated with 10-100 μM of peptide in serum-free media for 4 hours under appropriate culture conditions. The peptide-loaded antigen-presenting cells are then incubated with the responder cell populations in vitro for 7 to 10 days under optimized culture conditions. Positive CTL activation can be determined by assaying the cultures for the presence of CTLs that kill radiolabeled target cells, both specific peptide-pulsed targets as well as target cells expressing the endogenously processed form of the relevant virus or tumor antigen from which the peptide sequence was derived.
  • Specificity and MHC restriction of the CTL is determined by testing against different peptide target cells expressing appropriate or inappropriate human MHC class I. The peptides that test positive in the MHC binding assays and give rise to specific CTL responses are referred to herein as immunogenic peptides.
  • After determining their binding affinity, additional confirmatory work can be performed to select, amongst these vaccine candidates, epitopes with preferred characteristics in terms of population coverage, antigenicity, and immunogenicity.
  • Thus, various strategies can be utilized to evaluate immunogenicity, including:
  • 1) Evaluation of primary T cell cultures from normal individuals (see, e.g., Wentworth, P. A. et al., Mol. Immunol. 32:603, 1995; Celis, E. et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:2105, 1994; Tsai, V. et al., J. Immunol. 158:1796, 1997; Kawashima, I. et al., Human Immunol. 59:1, 1998); This procedure involves the stimulation of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from normal subjects with a test peptide in the presence of antigen presenting cells in vitro over a period of several weeks. T cells specific for the peptide become activated during this time and are detected using, e.g., a lymphokine-release or a 51Cr cytotoxicity assay involving peptide sensitized target cells.
  • 2) Immunization of HLA transgenic mice (see, e.g., Wentworth, P. A. et al., J. Immunol. 26:97, 1996; Wentworth, P. A. et al., Int. Immunol. 8:651, 1996; Alexander, J. et al., J. Immunol. 159:4753, 1997); In this method, peptides in incomplete Freund's adjuvant are administered subcutaneously to HLA transgenic mice. Several weeks following immunization, splenocytes are removed and cultured in vitro in the presence of test peptide for approximately one week. Peptide-specific T cells are detected using, e.g., a 51Cr-release assay involving peptide sensitized target cells and target cells expressing endogenously generated antigen.
  • Demonstration of recall T cell responses from patients who have been effectively vaccinated or who have a tumor; (see, e.g., Rehermann, B. et al., J. Exp. Med. 181:1047, 1995; Doolan, D. L. et al., Immunity 7:97, 1997; Bertoni, R. et al., J. Clin. Invest. 100:503, 1997; Threlkeld, S. C. et al., J. Immunol. 159:1648, 1997; Diepolder, H. M. et al., J. Virol. 71:6011, 1997; Tsang et al., J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 87:982-990, 1995; Disis et al., J. Immunol. 156:3151-3158, 1996). In applying this strategy, recall responses are detected by culturing PBL from patients with cancer who have generated an immune response “naturally”, or from patients who were vaccinated with tumor antigen vaccines. PBL from subjects are cultured in vitro for 1-2 weeks in the presence of test peptide plus antigen presenting cells (APC) to allow activation of “memory” T cells, as compared to “naive” T cells. At the end of the culture period, T cell activity is detected using assays for T cell activity including 51Cr release involving peptide-sensitized targets, T cell proliferation, or lymphokine release.
  • Kast, et al. (J. Immunol. 152:3904-3912, 1994) have shown that motif-bearing peptides account for 90% of the epitopes that bind to allele-specific HLA class I molecules. In this study all possible peptides of 9 amino acids in length and overlapping by eight amino acids (240 peptides), which cover the entire sequence of the E6 and E7 proteins of human papillomavirus type 16, were evaluated for binding to five allele-specific HLA molecules that are expressed at high frequency among different ethnic groups. This unbiased set of peptides allowed an evaluation of the predictive value of HLA class I motifs. From the set of 240 peptides, 22 peptides were identified that bound to an allele-specific HLA molecules with high or intermediate affinity. Of these 22 peptides, 20, (i.e. 91%), were motif-bearing. Thus, this study demonstrated the value of motifs for the identification of peptide epitopes for inclusion in a vaccine: application of motif-based identification techniques eliminates screening of 90% of the potential epitopes. The quantity of available peptides, and the complexity of the screening process would make a comprehensive evaluation of an antigen highly difficult, if not impossible without use of motifs.
  • An immunogenic peptide epitope of the invention may be included in a polyepitopic vaccine composition comprising additional peptide epitopes of the same antigen, antigens from the same source, and/or antigens from a different source. Moreover, class II epitopes can be included along with class I epitopes. Peptide epitopes from the same antigen may be adjacent epitopes that are contiguous in sequence or may be obtained from different regions of the protein.
  • The relationship between binding affinity for HLA class I molecules and immunogenicity of discrete peptide epitopes on bound antigens has been analyzed in three different experimental approaches (see, e.g. Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 153:5586 (1994)). In the first approach, the immunogenicity of potential epitopes ranging in MHC binding affinity over a 10,000-fold range was analyzed in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. In the second approach, the antigenicity of approximately 100 different hepatitis B virus (HBV)-derived potential epitopes, all carrying A*0201 binding motifs, was assessed by using PBL (peripheral blood lymphocytes) of acute hepatitis patients (see, e.g. Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 153:5586 (1994)). In the third approach the binding affinity of previously known antigenic peptides for the relevant HLA class I was determined (Sette et al. Molec. Immunol. 31:813, 1994) In all cases, it was found that an affinity threshold of approximately 500 nM (preferably 500 nM or less) determines the capacity of a peptide epitope to elicit a CTL response. In the case of class II HLA a relevant threshold of affinity was set at 1000 nM by similar studies performed by Southwood and colleagues (Southwood et al. J. Immunol. 160:3363-3373 (1998). These data also indicate the important role of determinant selection in the shaping of T cell responses.
  • Immunogenic peptides can be identified in relevant native sequences with reference e.g., to one of the supermotifs or motifs set out in TABLE 137, TABLE 138, and TABLE 139. A particular motif is denoted in the tables and is defined by its primary anchor residues, i.e. a motif bearing peptide must comprise at least one of the specified residues at each primary anchor position. A peptide may be analogued at any one or more of its primary anchor residues by exchanging one of the specified primary anchor residues with another primary anchor residue at the same position specified for the same motif. The numeric positions within each motif are designated in an amino to carboxyl orientation. Alternatively, a peptide may be analogued at any one or more of the designated secondary anchor residues described on TABLE 138 and TABLE 139 by exchanging an existing residue with one of the designated secondary anchor residues at the designated positions. In a preferred embodiment, to enhance binding affinity, deleterious residues are removed from native sequences; similarly deleterious residues are not used to substitute for another residue at a designated position. Modifications to a primary anchor position and/or a secondary anchor position may be made at one position or multiple positions.
  • Peptides that comprise epitopes and/or immunogenic peptides of the invention can be prepared synthetically, or by recombinant DNA technology or from natural sources such as whole viruses or tumors. Although the peptide will preferably be substantially free of other naturally occurring host cell proteins and fragments thereof, in some embodiments the peptides can be synthetically conjugated to native fragments or particles.
  • The present invention relates to allele-specific peptide motifs and binding peptides for human and murine MHC allele. It is contemplated that the peptide binding motifs of the invention are relatively specific for each allele. In an embodiment of the invention, the allele-specific motifs and binding peptides are for human class I MHC (or HLA) alleles. HLA alleles include HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-C alleles. In another embodiment of the invention the allele-specific motifs and binding peptides are for human class II MHC (or HLA) alleles. Such HLA alleles include HLA-DR and HLA-DQ alleles. HLA molecules that share similar binding affinity for peptides bearing certain amino acid motifs are grouped into HLA supertypes. See, i.e., Stites, et al., IMMUNOLOGY, 8TH ED., Lange Publishing, Los Altos, Calif. (1994). Peptides that bind one or more alleles in one or more supertypes are contemplated as part of the invention. Examples of the supertypes within HLA-A and HLA-B molecules are shown in FIG. 2. In yet another embodiment, the allele-specific motifs and binding peptides are for murine class I (or H-2) MHC alleles. Such H-2 alleles include H-2Dd, H-2 Kb, H-2 Kd, H-2 Db, H-2Ld, and H-2Kk. Exemplary tables describing allele-specific motifs are presented below. Binding within a particular supertype for murine MHC alleles is also contemplated.
  • These peptides were then used to define specific binding motifs for each of the following alleles A3.2, A1, A11, and A24.1. These motifs are described previously. The motifs described in TABLES 6-9, below, are defined from pool sequencing data of naturally processed peptides as described in the related applications. Preferred (i.e., canonical) and tolerated (i.e., extended) residues associated with anchor positions of the indicated HLA supertypes are presented in FIG. 2 and TABLE 3.
  • In one embodiment, the motif for HLA-A3.2 comprises from the N-terminus to C-terminus a first conserved residue of L, M, I, V, S, A, T and F at position 2 and a second conserved residue of K, R or Y at the C-terminal end. Other first conserved residues are C, G or D and alternatively E. Other second conserved residues are H or F. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues. In another embodiment, the motif for HLA-A1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of T, S or M, a second conserved residue of D or E, and a third conserved residue of Y. Other second conserved residues are A, S or T. The first and second conserved residues are adjacent and are preferably separated from the third conserved residue by 6 to 7 residues. A second motif consists of a first conserved residue of E or D and a second conserved residue of Y where the first and second conserved residues are separated by 5 to 6 residues.
  • In yet another embodiment, the motif for HLA-A 11 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of T, V, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C D, or F at position 2 and a C-terminal conserved residue of K, R, Y or H. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 or 7 residues. In one embodiment, the motif for HLA-A24.1 comprises from the N-terminus to the C-terminus a first conserved residue of Y, F or W at position 2 and a C terminal conserved residue of F, I, W, M or L. The first and second conserved residues are preferably separated by 6 to 7 residues.
  • The MHC-binding peptides identified herein represent epitopes of a native antigen. With regard to a particular amino acid sequence, an epitope is a set of amino acid residues which is recognized by a particular antibody or T cell receptor. Such epitopes are usually presented to lymphocytes via the MHC-peptide complex. An epitope retains the collective features of a molecule, such as primary, secondary and tertiary peptide structure, and charge, that together form a site recognized by an antibody, T cell receptor or MHC molecule. It is to be appreciated, however, that isolated or purified protein or peptide molecules larger than and comprising an epitope of the invention are still within the bounds of the invention. Moreover, it is contemplated that synthesized peptides can incorporate various biochemical changes that enhance their immunological effectiveness.
  • The epitopes present in the invention can be dominant, sub-dominant, or cryptic. A dominant epitope is an epitope that induces an immune response upon immunization with a whole native antigen. See, i.e., Sercarz, et al., Ann. Rev. Immunol. 11: 729-766 (1993). Such a peptide is considered immunogenic because it elicits a response against the whole antigen. A subdominant epitope, on the other hand, is one that evokes little or no response upon immunization with whole antigen that contains the epitope, but for which a response can be obtained by immunization with an isolated epitope. Immunization with a sub-dominant epitope will prime for a secondary response to the intact native antigen. A cryptic epitope elicits a response by immunization with an isolated peptide, but fails to prime a secondary response to a subsequent challenge with whole antigen.
  • An epitope present in the invention can be cross-reactive or non-cross-reactive in its interactions with MHC alleles and alleles subtypes. Cross-reactive binding of an epitope (or peptide) permits an epitope to be bound by more than one HLA molecule. Such cross-reactivity is also known as degenerate binding. A non-cross-reactive epitope would be restricted to binding a particular MHC allele or allele subtype.
  • Cross-reactive binding of HLA-A2.1 motif-bearing peptides with other HLA-A2 allele-specific molecules can occur. Those allele-specific molecules that share binding specificities with HLA-A2.1 are deemed to comprise the HLA-A2.1 supertype. The B pocket of A2 supertype HLA molecules is characterized by a consensus motif including residues (this nomenclature uses single letter amino acid codes, where the subscript indicates peptide position) F/Y9, A24, M45, E/N63, K/N66, V67, H/Q70 and Y/C99. Similarly, the A2-supertype F pocket is characterized by a consensus motif including residues D77, T80, L81 and Y116 (155). About 66% of the peptides binding A*0201 will be cross-reactive amongst three or more A2-supertype alleles.
  • The A2 supertype as defined herein is consistent with cross-reactivity data, (Fruci, D. et al., Hum. Immunol. 38:187, 1993), from live cell binding assays (del Guercio, M.-F. et al., J. Immunol. 154:685, 1995) and data obtained by sequencing naturally processed peptides (Sudo, T., et al., J. Immunol. 155:4749, 1995) bound to HLA-A2 allele-specific molecules. Accordingly the family of HLA molecules (i.e., the HLA-A2 supertype that binds these peptides) is comprised of at least nine HLA-A proteins: A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0204, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207, A*6802, and A*6901.
  • As described herein, the HLA-A2 supermotif comprises peptide ligands with L, I, V, M, A, T, or Q as primary anchor residues at position 2 and L, I, V, M, A, or T as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope. HLA-A2 motifs that are most particularly relevant to the invention claimed here comprise V, A, T, or Q at position two and L, I, V, M, A, or T at the C-terminal anchor position. A peptide epitope comprising an HLA-A2 supermotif may bind more than one HLA-A2 supertype molecule.
  • The epitopes of the present invention can be any suitable length. Class I molecule binding peptides typically are about 8 to 13 amino acids in length, and often 9, 10, 11, or 12 amino acids in length. These peptides include conserved amino acids at certain positions such as the second position from the N-terminus and the C-terminal position. Also, the peptides often do not include amino acids at certain positions that negatively affect binding of the peptide to the HLA molecules. For example, the peptides often do not include amino acids at positions 1, 3, 6 and/or 7 for peptides 9 amino acid peptides in length or positions 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and/or 9 for peptides 10 amino acids in length. Further, defined herein are positions within a peptide sequence that can be utilized as criteria for selecting HLA-binding peptide. These defined positions are often referred to herein as a binding “motif.”
  • Definition of motifs specific for different MHC alleles allows the identification of potential peptide epitopes from an antigenic protein whose amino acid sequence is known. Typically, identification of potential peptide epitopes is initially carried out using a computer to scan the amino acid sequence of a desired antigen for the presence of motifs. The epitopic sequences are then synthesized.
  • In general, class I peptide binding motifs generally include a first conserved residue at position two from the N-terminus (wherein the N-terminal residue is position one) and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position (often position 9 or 10). As a specific example, the HLA A*0201 class I peptide binding motifs include a first conserved residue at position two from the N-terminus (wherein the N-terminal residue is position one) selected from the group consisting of I, V, A and T and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position selected from the group consisting of V, L, I, A and M. Alternatively, the peptide may have a first conserved residue at the second position from the N-terminus (wherein the N-terminal residue is position one) selected from the group consisting of L, M, I, V, A and T; and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position selected from the group consisting of A and M. If the peptide has 10 residues it will contain a first conserved residue at the second position from the N-terminus (wherein the N-terminal residue is position one) selected from the group consisting of L, M, I, V, A, and T; and a second conserved residue at the C-terminal position selected from the group consisting of V, I, L, A and M; wherein the first and second conserved residues are separated by 7 residues.
  • One embodiment of an HTL-inducing peptide is less than about 50 residues in length and usually consist of between about 6 and about 30 residues, more usually between about 12 and 25, and often between about 15 and 20 residues, for example 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20 residues. One embodiment of a CTL-inducing peptide is 13 residues or less in length and usually consists of about 8, 9, 10 or 11 residues, preferably 9 or 10 residues. In one embodiment, HLA-DR3 a binding is characterized by an L, I, V, M, F or Y residue at position 1 and a D or E residue at position 4. In another embodiment, HLA-DR3 b binding is characterized by an L, I, V, M, F, Y or A residue at position 1, a D, E, N, Q, S or T residue at position 4, and a K, R or H residue at position 6. In another embodiment, key anchor residues of a DR supertype binding motif are an L, I, V, M, F, W or Y residue at position 1 and an L, I, V, M, S, T, P, C or A residue at position 6. See, TABLE 3.
  • Moreover, in another embodiment, murine Db binding is characterized by an N residue at position 5 and L, I, V or M residue at the C-terminal position. In yet another embodiment, murine Kb binding is characterized by a Y or F residue at position 5 and an L, I, V or M residue at the C-terminal position. In an additional embodiment, murine Kd binding is characterized a Y or F residue at position 2 and an L, I, V, or M residue at the C-terminal position. In a further embodiment, murine Kk binding is characterized by an E or D residue at position 2 and an L, I, M, V, F, W, Y or A residue at the C-terminal position. In a further embodiment, murine Ld binding is characterized by a P residue at position 2 and an L, I, M, V, F, W or Y residue at the C-terminal position. See, TABLE 5.
  • HLA Class I Motifs Indicative of CTL Inducing Peptide Epitopes:
  • The primary anchor residues of the HLA class I peptide epitope supermotifs and motifs are delineated below. In some cases, peptide epitopes may be listed in both a motif and a supermotif Table. The relationship of a particular motif and respective supermotif is indicated in the description of the individual motifs.
  • The HLA-A1 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of a small (T or S) or hydrophobic (L, I, V, or M) primary anchor residue in position 2, and an aromatic (Y, F, or W) primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope. The corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the A1 supermotif (i.e., the HLA-A1 supertype) is comprised of at least A*0101, A*2601, A*2602, A*2501, and A*3201 (see, e.g., DiBrino, M. et al., J. Immunol. 151:5930, 1993; DiBrino, M. et al., J. Immunol. 152:620, 1994; Kondo, A. et al., Immunogenetics 45:249, 1997). Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the A1 superfamily are shown in Table 137. Peptides binding to each of the individual HLA proteins can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • Primary anchor specificities for allele-specific HLA-A2.1 molecules (see, e.g., Falk et al., Nature 351:290-296, 1991; Hunt et al., Science 255:1261-1263, 1992; Parker et al., J. Immunol. 149:3580-3587, 1992; Ruppert et al., Cell 74:929-937, 1993) and cross-reactive binding among HLA-A2 and -A28 molecules have been described. (See, e.g., Fruci et al., Human Immunol. 38:187-192, 1993; Tanigaki et al., Human Immunol. 39:155-162, 1994; Del Guercio et al., J. Immunol. 154:685-693, 1995; Kast et al., J. Immunol. 152:3904-3912, 1994 for reviews of relevant data.) These primary anchor residues define the HLA-A2 supermotif; which presence in peptide ligands corresponds to the ability to bind several different HLA-A2 and -A28 molecules. The HLA-A2 supermotif comprises peptide ligands with L, I, V, M, A, T, or Q as a primary anchor residue at position 2 and L, I, V, M, A, or T as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope.
  • The corresponding family of HLA molecules (i.e., the HLA-A2 supertype that binds these peptides) is comprised of at least: A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0204, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207, A*0209, A*0214, A*6802, and A*6901. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the A2 superfamily are shown in Table 137. As explained in detail below, binding to each of the individual allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at the primary anchor and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-A3 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of A, L, I, V, M, S, or, T as a primary anchor at position 2, and a positively charged residue, R or K, at the C-terminal position of the epitope, e.g., in position 9 of 9-mers (see, e.g., Sidney et al., Hum. Immunol. 45:79, 1996). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules (the HLA-A3 supertype) that bind the A3 supermotif include at least A*0301, A*1101, A*3101, A*3301, and A*6801. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the A3 supertype are shown in Table 1. As explained in detail below, peptide binding to each of the individual allele-specific HLA proteins can be modulated by substitutions of amino acids at the primary and/or secondary anchor positions of the peptide, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-A24 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of an aromatic (F, W, or Y) or hydrophobic aliphatic (L, I, V, M, or T) residue as a primary anchor in position 2, and Y, F, W, L, I, or M as primary anchor at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Sette and Sidney, Immunogenetics, in press, 1999). The corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the A24 supermotif (i.e., the A24 supertype) includes at least A*2402, A*3001, and A*2301. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the A24 supertype are shown in Table 137. Peptide binding to each of the allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-B7 supermotif is characterized by peptides bearing proline in position 2 as a primary anchor, and a hydrophobic or aliphatic amino acid (L, I, V, M, A, F, W, or Y) as the primary anchor at the C-terminal position of the epitope. The corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind the B7 supermotif (i.e., the HLA-B7 supertype) is comprised of at least twenty six HLA-B proteins including: B*0702, B*0703, B*0704, B*0705, B*1508, B*3501, B*3502, B*3503, B*3504, B*3505, B*3506, B*3507, B*3508, B*5101, B*5102, B*5103, B*5104, B*5105, B*5301, B*5401, B*5501, B*5502, B*5601, B*5602, B*6701, and B*7801 (see, e.g., Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247, 1995; Barber, et al., Curr. Biol. 5:179, 1995; Hill, et al., Nature 360:434, 1992; Rammensee, et al., Immunogenetics 41:178, 1995 for reviews of relevant data). Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the B7 supertype are shown in Table 137. As explained in detail below, peptide binding to each of the individual allele-specific HLA proteins can be modulated by substitutions at the primary and/or secondary anchor positions of the peptide, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-B27 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of a positively charged (R, H, or K) residue as a primary anchor at position 2, and a hydrophobic (F, Y, L, W, M, I, A, or V) residue as a primary anchor at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Sidney and Sette, Immunogenetics, in press, 1999). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the B27 supermotif (i.e., the B27 supertype) include at least B*1401, B*1402, B*1509, B*2702, B*2703, B*2704, B*2705, B*2706, B*3801, B*3901, B*3902, and B*7301. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the B27 supertype are shown in Table 137. Peptide binding to each of the allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-B44 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of negatively charged (D or E) residues as a primary anchor in position 2, and hydrophobic residues (F, W, Y, L, I, M, V, or A) as a primary anchor at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Sidney et al., Immunol. Today 17:261, 1996). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the B44 supermotif (i.e., the B44 supertype) include at least: B*1801, B*1802, B*3701, B*4001, B*4002, B*4006, B*4402, B*4403, and B*4006. Peptide binding to each of the allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions; preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-B58 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of a small aliphatic residue (A, S, or T) as a primary anchor residue at position 2, and an aromatic or hydrophobic residue (F, W, Y, L, I, V, M, or A) as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Sidney and Sette, Immunogenetics, in press, 1999 for reviews of relevant data). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the B58 supermotif (i.e., the B58 supertype) include at least: B*1516, B*1517, B*5701, B*5702, and B*5801. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the B58 supertype are shown in Table 137. Peptide binding to each of the allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-B62 supermotif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of the polar aliphatic residue Q or a hydrophobic aliphatic residue (L, V, M, I, or P) as a primary anchor in position 2, and a hydrophobic residue (F, W, Y, M, I, V, L, or A) as a primary anchor at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Sidney and Sette, Immunogenetics, in press, 1999). Exemplary members of the corresponding family of HLA molecules that bind to the B62 supermotif (i.e., the B62 supertype) include at least: B*1501, B*1502, B*1513, and B5201. Other allele-specific HLA molecules predicted to be members of the B62 supertype are shown in Table 137
  • Peptide binding to each of the allele-specific HLA molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • The HLA-A1 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of T, S, or M as a primary anchor residue at position 2 and the presence of Y as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope. An alternative allele-specific A1 motif is characterized by a primary anchor residue at position 3 rather than position 2. This motif is characterized by the presence of D, E, A, or S as a primary anchor residue in position 3, and a Y as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., DiBrino et al., J. Immunol., 152:620, 1994; Kondo et al., Immunogenetics 45:249, 1997; and Kubo et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913, 1994 for reviews of relevant data). An HLA-A1 extended motif includes a D residue in position 3 and A, I, L, or F at the C-terminus. Peptide binding to HLA A1 can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif. Residues T, S, or M at position 2 and Y at the C-terminal position are a subset of the A1 supermotif primary anchors.
  • An HLA-A2*0201 motif was characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of L or M as a primary anchor residue in position 2, and L or V as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of a 9-residue peptide (see, e.g., Falk et al., Nature 351:290-296, 1991) and was further found to comprise an I at position 2 and I or A at the C-terminal position of a nine amino acid peptide (see, e.g., Hunt et al., Science 255:1261-1263, Mar. 6, 1992; Parker et al., J. Immunol. 149:3580-3587, 1992). The A*0201 allele-specific motif has also been defined to additionally comprise V, A, T, or Q as a primary anchor residue at position 2, and M or T as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Kast et al., J. Immunol. 152:3904-3912, 1994). Thus, the HLA-A*0201 motif comprises peptide ligands with L, I, V, M, A, T, or Q as primary anchor residues at position 2 and L, I, V, M, A, or T as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope. The preferred and tolerated residues that characterize the primary anchor positions of the HLA-A*0201 motif are identical to the residues describing the A2 supermotif. (For reviews of relevant data, see, e.g., Del Guercio et al., J. Immunol. 154:685-693, 1995; Ruppert et al., Cell 74:929-937, 1993; Sidney et al., Immunol. Today 17:261-266, 1996; Sette and Sidney, Curr. Opin. in Immunol. 10:478-482, 1998). Secondary anchor residues that characterize the A*0201 motif have additionally been defined (see, e.g., Ruppert et al., Cell 74:929-937, 1993). Peptide binding to HLA-A*0201 molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif.
  • The HLA-A3 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of L, M, V, I, S, A, T, F, C, G, or D as a primary anchor residue at position 2, and the presence of K, Y, R, H, F, or A as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., DiBrino et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:1508, 1993; and Kubo et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913-3924, 1994). Peptide binding to HLA-A3 can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif.
  • The HLA-A11 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of V, T, M, L, I, S, A, G, N, C, D, or F as a primary anchor residue in position 2, and K, R, Y, or H as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Zhang et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 90:2217-2221, 1993; and Kubo et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913-3924, 1994). Peptide binding to HLA-A11 can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif.
  • The HLA-A24 motif is characterized by the presence in peptide ligands of Y, F, W, or M as a primary anchor residue in position 2, and F, L, I, or W as a primary anchor residue at the C-terminal position of the epitope (see, e.g., Kondo et al., J. Immunol. 155:4307-4312, 1995; and Kubo et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913-3924, 1994). Peptide binding to HLA-A24 molecules can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions; preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif.
  • Motifs Indicative of Class II HTL Inducing Peptide Epitope
  • The primary anchor residues of the HLA class II supermotifs and motifs are delineated below.
  • HLA DR-1-4-7 Supermotif
  • Motifs have also been identified for peptides that bind to three common HLA class II allele-specific HLA molecules: HLA DRB1*0401, DRB1*0101, and DRB1*0701 (see, e.g., the review by Southwood et al. J. Immunology 160:3363-3373, 1998). Collectively, the common residues from these motifs delineate the HLA DR-1-4-7 supermotif. Peptides that bind to these DR molecules carry a supermotif characterized by a large aromatic or hydrophobic residue (Y, F, W, L, I, V, or M) as a primary anchor residue in position 1, and a small, non-charged residue (S, T, C, A, P, V, I, L, or M) as a primary anchor residue in position 6 of a 9-mer core region. Allele-specific secondary effects and secondary anchors for each of these HLA types have also been identified (Southwood et al., supra). These are set forth in Table 139. Peptide binding to HLA-DRB1*0401, DRB1*0101, and/or DRB1*0701 can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the supermotif.
  • Two alternative motifs (i.e., submotifs) characterize peptide epitopes that bind to HLA-DR3 molecules (see, e.g., Geluk et al., J. Immunol. 152:5742, 1994). In the first motif (submotif DR3A) a large, hydrophobic residue (L, I, V, M, F, or Y) is present in anchor position 1 of a 9-mer core, and D is present as an anchor at position 4, towards the carboxyl terminus of the epitope. As in other class II motifs, core position 1 may or may not occupy the peptide N-terminal position.
  • The alternative DR3 submotif provides for lack of the large, hydrophobic residue at anchor position 1, and/or lack of the negatively charged or amide-like anchor residue at position 4, by the presence of a positive charge at position 6 towards the carboxyl terminus of the epitope. Thus, for the alternative allele-specific DR3 motif (submotif DR3B): L, I, V, M, F, Y, A, or Y is present at anchor position 1; D, N, Q, E, S, or T is present at anchor position 4; and K, R, or H is present at anchor position 6. Peptide binding to HLA-DR3 can be modulated by substitutions at primary and/or secondary anchor positions, preferably choosing respective residues specified for the motif.
  • As with HLA class I binding peptides, motifs have also been defined for HLA class II-binding peptides. Several studies have identified an important role for an aromatic or hydrophobic residue (I, L, M, V, F, W, or Y) at position 1 of a 9-mer core region, typically nested within a longer peptide sequence, in the binding of peptide ligands to several HLA-class II alleles (Hammer et al. Cell 74:197, (1993); Sette et al. J. Immunol. 151:3163-70 (1993); O'Sullivan et al. J. Immunol. 147:2663 (1991); and Southwood et al. J. Immunol. 160:3363-73 (1998)). A strong role has also been demonstrated for the residue in position 6 of the 9-mer core, where short and/or hydrophobic residues (S, T, C, A, P, V, I, L, or M) are preferred. This position 1-position 6 motif has been described as a DR-supermotif (Southwood et al. J. Immunol. 160:3363-3373 (1998)) and has been shown to efficiently identify peptides capable of binding a large set of common HLA-class II alleles.
  • Peptides binding to class II molecules may also be analyzed with respect to the identification of secondary preferred or deleterious residues. For example, to derive a more detailed DRB1*0401 motif to define secondary residues influencing peptide binding, we employed a strategy similar to that performed with class I peptides. For each peptide analyzed, nine-residue-long core regions were aligned on the basis of the primary class II positions P1 and P6 anchors. Then, the average binding affinity of a peptide carrying a particular residue was calculated for each position, relative to the remainder of the group. Following this method, values showing average relative binding were compiled. These values also present a map of the positive or negative effect of each of the 20 naturally occurring amino acids in DRB1*0401 binding capacity when occupying a particular position relative to the P1-P6 class II motif positions.
  • Variations in average relative binding of greater than or equal to fourfold or less than or equal to 0.25 were arbitrarily considered significant and indicative of secondary effects of a given residue on HLA-peptide interactions. Most secondary effects were associated with P4, P7, and P9. These positions correspond to secondary anchors engaging shallow pockets on the DR molecule. Similar studies defining secondary residues were also performed for DRB1*0101 and DRB1*0701. The definitions of secondary residues of motifs for DR1, DR4, and DR7 are shown in TABLE 139.
  • Upon definition of allele-specific secondary effects and secondary anchors, allele-specific algorithms were derived and utilized to identify peptides binding DRB1*0101, DRB1*0401, and DRB*0701. Further experiments, identified a large set of HLA class II molecules, which includes at least the DRB1*0101, DRB1*0401, and DRB*0701, DRB1*1501, DRB1*0901 and DRB1*1302 allelic products recognizing the DR supermotif, and is characterized by largely overlapping peptide binding repertoires.
  • The data presented above confirm that several common HLA class II types are characterized by largely overlapping peptide binding repertoires. On this basis, in analogy to the case of HLA class I molecules, HLA class II molecules can be grouped in a HLA class II supertype, defined and characterized by similar, or largely overlapping (albeit not identical) peptide binding specificities.
  • Analogs of HLA class II binding peptides that bear HLA class II motifs may be created in a manner similar to Class I molecules. Peptides bearing motifs may be modified at primary anchor residues to modulate binding affinity, at secondary residues or both primary and secondary residues. Examples may be found in related application U.S. Ser. No. 08/121,101. For example, the TT830-843 peptide (QYIKANSKFIGITE (SEQ ID NO:______) is capable of binding strongly, i.e. with an affinity of between 10-100 nM, to many DR alleles including DR1, DR2, DR5, and DR7. However, the peptide binds 100-1000-fold less well to DR4w4. It was predicted that the lower affinity of TT830-843 for DR4w4 correlated with the presence of a positive charge in position 7 (K837) in the DR binding motif. Positive charges in position 7 are allowed in the case of DR1 or DR7, but not in the case of DR4w4. For this reason, it was predicted that TT analogs carrying a non-charged residue in position 837 would be good DR4w4 binders. Analysis of the binding characteristics of a peptide analog bearing an S substitution for the charged K residue demonstrated that the analog was capable of binding at much higher affinity to DR4w4 compared to the native peptide, i.e. the IC50 of the analog was 13 nM compared to an IC50 of 15,000 nM for the native sequence.
  • The peptides present in the invention can be identified by any suitable method. For example, peptides are conveniently identified using the algorithms of the invention described in the co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/894,018. These algorithms are mathematical procedures that produce a score which enables the selection of immunogenic peptides. Typically one uses the algorithmic score with a binding threshold to enable selection of peptides that have a high probability of binding at a certain affinity and will in turn be immunogenic. The algorithm are based upon either the effects on MHC binding of a particular amino acid at a particular position of a peptide or the effects on binding MHC of a particular substitution in a motif containing peptide.
  • Peptide sequences characterized in molecular binding assays and capture assays have been and can be identified utilizing various technologies. Motif-positive sequences are identified using a customized application created at Epimmune. Sequences are also identified utilizing matrix-based algorithms, and have been used in conjunction with a “power” module that generates a predicted 50% inhibitory concentration (PIC) value. These latter methods are operational on Epimmune's HTML-based Epitope Information System (EIS) database. All of the described methods are viable options in peptide sequence selection for IC50 determination using binding assays.
  • Additional procedures useful in identifying the peptides of the present invention generally follow the methods disclosed in Falk et al., Nature 351:290 (1991). Briefly, the methods involve large-scale isolation of MHC class I molecules, typically by immunoprecipitation or affinity chromatography, from the appropriate cell or cell line. Examples of other methods for isolation of the desired MHC molecule equally well known to the artisan include ion exchange chromatography, lectin chromatography, size exclusion, high performance liquid chromatography, and a combination of some or all of the above techniques.
  • For example, isolation of peptides bound to MHC class I molecules include lowering the culture temperature from 37° C. to 26° C. overnight to destabilize β2 microglobulin and stripping the endogenous peptides from the cell using a mild acid treatment. The methods release previously bound peptides into the extracellular environment allowing new exogenous peptides to bind to the empty class I molecules. The cold-temperature incubation method enables exogenous peptides to bind efficiently to the MHC complex, but requires an overnight incubation at 26° C. which may slow the cell's metabolic rate. It is also likely that cells not actively synthesizing MHC molecules (i.e., resting PBMC) would not produce high amounts of empty surface MHC molecules by the cold temperature procedure.
  • Immunoprecipitation is also used to isolate the desired allele. A number of protocols can be used, depending upon the specificity of the antibodies used. For example, allele-specific mAb reagents can be used for the affinity purification of the HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-C molecules. Several mAb reagents for the isolation of HLA-A molecules are available (TABLE 3). Monoclonal antibody BB7.2 is suitable for isolating HLA-A2 molecules. Thus, for each of the targeted HLA-A alleles, reagents are available that may be used for the direct isolation of the HLA-A molecules. Affinity columns prepared with these mAbs using standard techniques are successfully used to purify the respective HLA-A allele products.
  • In addition to allele-specific mAbs, broadly reactive anti-HLA-A, B, C mAbs, such as W6/32 and B9.12.1, and one anti-HLA-B, C mAb, B1.23.2, could be used in alternative affinity purification protocols as described in patents and patent applications described herein.
  • The peptides bound to the peptide binding groove of the isolated MHC molecules are typically eluted using acid treatment. Peptides can also be dissociated from MHC molecules by a variety of standard denaturing means, such as, for example, heat, pH, detergents, salts, chaotropic agents, or a combination acid treatment and/or more standard denaturing means.
  • Peptide fractions are further separated from the MHC molecules by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and sequenced. Peptides can be separated by a variety of other standard means well known to the artisan, including filtration, ultrafiltration, electrophoresis, size chromatography, precipitation with specific antibodies, ion exchange chromatography, isoelectrofocusing, and the like.
  • Sequencing of the isolated peptides can be performed according to standard techniques such as Edman degradation (Hunkapiller, M. W., et al., Methods Enzymol. 91, 399 (1983)). Other methods suitable for sequencing include mass spectrometry sequencing of individual peptides as previously described (Hunt, et al., Science 225:1261 (1992)). Amino acid sequencing of bulk heterogeneous peptides (i.e., pooled HPLC fractions) from different MHC molecules typically reveals a characteristic sequence motif for each MHC allele. For assays of peptide-HLA interactions (e.g., quantitative binding assays) cells with defined MHC molecules are useful.
  • A large number of cells with defined MHC molecules, particularly MHC Class I molecules, are known and readily available. For example, human EBV-transformed B cell lines have been shown to be excellent sources for the preparative isolation of class I and class II MHC molecules. Well-characterized cell lines are available from private and commercial sources, such as American Type Culture Collection (“Catalogue of Cell Lines and Hybridomas,” 6th edition (1988) Manassas, Va., U.S.A.); National Institute of General Medical Sciences 1990/1991 Catalog of Cell Lines (NIGMS) Human Genetic Mutant Cell Repository, Camden, N.J.; and ASHI Repository, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. TABLE 3 and TABLE 23 list some B cell lines suitable for use as sources for HLA alleles. All of these cell lines can be grown in large batches and are therefore useful for large scale production of MHC molecules. One of skill will recognize that these are merely exemplary cell lines and that many other cell sources can be employed. Similar EBV B cell lines homozygous for HLA-B and HLA-C could serve as sources for HLA-B and HLA-C alleles, respectively. Specific cell lines and antibodies used to determine class II and murine peptides disclosed herein are set forth in TABLES 6 and 7.
  • The peptides of the invention can be prepared synthetically, or by recombinant DNA technology or from natural sources such as whole viruses or tumors. Although the peptide will preferably be substantially free of other naturally occurring host cell proteins and fragments thereof, in some embodiments the peptides can be synthetically or naturally conjugated to native protein fragments or particles. The peptides of the invention can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. Because of their relatively short size, the peptides can be synthesized in solution or on a solid support in accordance with conventional techniques. Various automatic synthesizers are commercially available and can be used in accordance with known protocols. See, for example, Stewart and Young, Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis, 2d. ed., Pierce Chemical Co. (1984), supra.
  • The capacity to bind MHC molecules is measured in a variety of different ways. One means is a MHC binding assay as described in the related applications, noted above. Other alternatives described in the literature include inhibition of antigen presentation (Sette, et al., J. Immunol. 141:3893 (1991), in vitro assembly assays (Townsend, et al., Cell 62:285 (1990), and FACS based assays using mutated cells, such as RMA.S (Melief, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963 (1991)).
  • Capture Assay: Unlike the HPLC-based molecular binding assay, noted above, the high throughput screening (“HTS”) Capture assay does not utilize a size-exclusion silica column for separation of bound from unbound radioactive marker. Instead, wells of an opaque white 96-well Optiplate (Packard) are coated with 3 μg (100 μl @ 30 μg/ml) of HLA-specific antibody (Ab) that “capture” complexes of radiolabeled MHC and unlabeled peptide transferred from the molecular binding assay plate in 100 μl of 0.05% NP40/PBS. After a 3-hour incubation period, the supernatant is decanted and scintillation fluid (Microscint 20) added. Captured complexes are then measured on a microplate scintillation and luminescence counter (TopCount NXTTM; Packard).
  • Additional assays for determining binding are described in detail, i.e., in PCT publications WO 94/20127 and WO 94/03205. Binding data results are often expressed in terms of IC50 value. IC50 is the concentration of peptide in a binding assay at which 50% inhibition of binding of a reference peptide occurs. Given the conditions in which the assays are preformed (i.e., limiting MHC proteins and labeled peptide concentrations), these values approximate KD values. It should be noted that IC50 values can change, often dramatically, if the assay conditions are varied, and depending on the particular reagents used (i.e., MHC preparation, etc.). For example, excessive concentrations of MHC molecules will increase the apparent measured IC50 of a given ligand. Alternatively, binding is expressed relative to a reference peptide. Although as a particular assay becomes more, or less, sensitive, the IC50's of the peptides tested may change somewhat, the binding relative to the reference peptide will not significantly change. For example, in an assay preformed under conditions such that the IC50 of the reference peptide increases 10-fold, the IC50 values of the test peptides will also increase approximately 10-fold. Therefore, to avoid ambiguities, the assessment of whether a peptide is a good, intermediate, weak, or negative binder is generally based on its IC50, relative to the IC50 of a standard peptide.
  • Binding may also be determined using other assay systems including those using: live cells (i.e., Ceppellini et al., Nature 339:392, 1989; Christnick et al., Nature 352:67, 1991; Busch et al., Int. Immunol. 2:443, 19990; Hill et al., J. Immunol. 147:189, 1991; del Guercio et al., J. Immunol. 154:685, 1995), cell free systems using detergent lysates (i.e., Cerundolo et al., J. Immunol. 21:2069, 1991), immobilized purified MHC (i.e., Hill et al., J. Immunol. 152, 2890, 1994; Marshall et al., J. Immunol. 152:4946, 1994), ELISA systems (i.e., Reay et al., EMBO J. 11:2829, 1992), surface plasmon resonance (i.e., Khilko et al., J. Biol. Chem. 268:15425, 1993); high flux soluble phase assays (Hammer et al., J. Exp. Med. 180:2353, 1994), and measurement of class I MHC stabilization or assembly (i.e., Ljunggren et al., Nature 346:476, 1990; Schumacher et al., Cell 62:563, 1990; Townsend et al., Cell 62:285, 1990; Parker et al., J. Immunol. 149:1896, 1992).
  • High affinity with respect to HLA class I molecules is defined as binding with an IC50, or KD value, of 50 nM or less; intermediate affinity with respect to HLA class I molecules is defined as binding with an IC50 or KD value of between about 50 and about 500 nM. High affinity with respect to binding to HLA class II molecules is defined as binding with an IC50 or KD value of 100 nM or less; intermediate affinity with respect to binding to HLA class II molecules is defined as binding with an IC50 or KD value of between about 100 and about 1000 nM. These values are as previously defined in the related patents and applications cited above.
  • The immunogenic peptides can be prepared synthetically, or by recombinant DNA technology or from natural sources such as whole viruses or tumors. Although the peptide will preferably be substantially free of other naturally occurring host cell proteins and fragments thereof, in some embodiments the peptides can be synthetically conjugated to native fragments or particles.
  • The polypeptides or peptides can be a variety of lengths, either in their neutral (uncharged) forms or in forms which are salts, and either free of modifications such as glycosylation, side chain oxidation, or phosphorylation or containing these modifications, subject to the condition that the modification not destroy the biological activity of the polypeptides as herein described.
  • Desirably, the peptide will be as small as possible while still maintaining substantially all of the biological activity of the large peptide. In one embodiment, it may be desirable to optimize peptides of the invention to a length of 8, 9, 10 or 11 amino acid residues, commensurate in size with endogenously processed viral peptides or tumor cell peptides that are bound to MHC class I molecules on the cell surface. In another embodiment, it may be desirable to optimize peptides of the invention to about 15 to 20 amino acid residues, commensurate with peptides that are bound to MHC class II molecules on the cell surface.
  • Peptides having the desired activity may be modified as necessary to provide certain desired attributes, e.g., improved pharmacological characteristics, while increasing or at least retaining substantially all of the biological activity of the unmodified peptide to bind the desired MHC molecule and activate the appropriate T cell. For instance, the peptides may be subject to various changes, such as substitutions, either conservative or non-conservative, where such changes might provide for certain advantages in their use, such as improved MHC binding. By “conservative substitution” is meant replacing an amino acid residue with another which is biologically and/or chemically similar, e.g., one hydrophobic residue for another, or one polar residue for another. The substitutions include combinations such as Gly, Ala; Val, Ile, Leu, Met; Asp, Glu; Asn, Gln; Ser, Thr; Lys, Arg; and Phe, Tyr. The effect of single amino acid substitutions may also be probed using D-amino acids. Such modifications may be made using well known peptide synthesis procedures, as described in e.g., Merrifield, Science 232:341-347 (1986), Barany and Merrifield, The Peptides, Gross and Meienhofer, eds. (N.Y., Academic Press), pp. 1-284 (1979); and Stewart and Young, Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis, (Rockford, Ill., Pierce), 2d Ed. (1984), incorporated by reference herein.
  • The peptides of the invention can also be modified by extending or decreasing the compound's amino acid sequence, e.g., by the addition or deletion of amino acids. The peptides or analogs of the invention can also be modified by altering the order or composition of certain residues, it being readily appreciated that certain amino acid residues essential for biological activity, e.g., those at critical contact sites or conserved residues, may generally not be altered without an adverse effect on biological activity. The non-critical amino acids need not be limited to those naturally occurring in proteins, such as L-α-amino acids, or their D-isomers, but may include non-natural amino acids as well, such as β-γ-δ-aminoacids, as well as many derivatives of L-α-amino acids.
  • Typically, a series of peptides with single amino acid substitutions are employed to determine the effect of electrostatic charge, hydrophobicity, etc. on binding. For instance, a series of positively charged (e.g., Lys or Arg) or negatively charged (e.g., Glu) amino acid substitutions are made along the length of the peptide revealing different patterns of sensitivity towards various MHC molecules and T cell receptors. In addition, multiple substitutions using small, relatively neutral moieties such as Ala, Gly, Pro, or similar residues may be employed. The substitutions may be homo-oligomers or hetero-oligomers. The number and types of residues which are substituted or added depend on the spacing necessary between essential contact points and certain functional attributes which are sought (e.g., hydrophobicity versus hydrophilicity). Increased binding affinity for an MHC molecule or T cell receptor may also be achieved by such substitutions, compared to the affinity of the parent peptide. In any event, such substitutions should employ amino acid residues or other molecular fragments chosen to avoid, for example, steric and charge interference which might disrupt binding.
  • Amino acid substitutions are typically of single residues. Substitutions, deletions, insertions or any combination thereof may be combined to arrive at a final peptide. Substitutional variants are those in which at least one residue of a peptide has been removed and a different residue inserted in its place. Such substitutions generally are made in accordance with the following TABLE 72 when it is desired to finely modulate the characteristics of the peptide.
  • Substantial changes in function (e.g., affinity for MHC molecules or T cell receptors) are made by selecting substitutions that are less conservative than those in TABLE 70, i.e., selecting residues that differ more significantly in their effect on maintaining (a) the structure of the peptide backbone in the area of the substitution, for example as a sheet or helical conformation, (b) the charge or hydrophobicity of the molecule at the target site or (c) the bulk of the side chain. The substitutions which in general are expected to produce the greatest changes in peptide properties will be those in which (a) hydrophilic residue, e.g. seryl, is substituted for (or by) a hydrophobic residue, e.g. leucyl, isoleucyl, phenylalanyl, valyl or alanyl; (b) a residue having an electropositive side chain, e.g., lysl, arginyl, or histidyl, is substituted for (or by) an electronegative residue, e.g. glutamyl or aspartyl; or (c) a residue having a bulky side chain, e.g. phenylalanine, is substituted for (or by) one not having a side chain, e.g., glycine.
  • The peptides may also comprise isosteres of two or more residues in the immunogenic peptide. An isostere as defined here is a sequence of two or more residues that can be substituted for a second sequence because the steric conformation of the first sequence fits a binding site specific for the second sequence. The term specifically includes peptide backbone modifications well known to those skilled in the art. Such modifications include modifications of the amide nitrogen, the α-carbon, amide carbonyl, complete replacement of the amide bond, extensions, deletions or backbone crosslinks. See, generally, Spatola, Chemistry and Biochemistry of Amino Acids, peptides and Proteins, Vol. VII (Weinstein ed., 1983).
  • Modifications of peptides with various amino acid mimetics or unnatural amino acids are particularly useful in increasing the stability of the peptide in vivo. Stability can be assayed in a number of ways. For instance, peptidases and various biological media, such as human plasma and serum, have been used to test stability. See, e.g., Verhoef et al., Eur. J. Drug Metab. Pharmacokin. 11:291-302 (1986). Half life of the peptides of the present invention is conveniently determined using a 25% human serum (v/v) assay. The protocol is generally as follows. Pooled human serum (Type AB, non-heat inactivated) is delipidated by centrifugation before use. The serum is then diluted to 25% with RPMI tissue culture media and used to test peptide stability. At predetermined time intervals a small amount of reaction solution is removed and added to either 6% aqueous trichloracetic acid or ethanol. The cloudy reaction sample is cooled (4° C.) for 15 minutes and then spun to pellet the precipitated serum proteins. The presence of the peptides is then determined by reversed-phase HPLC using stability-specific chromatography conditions.
  • The peptides of the present invention or analogs thereof which have CTL stimulating activity may be modified to provide desired attributes other than improved serum half life. For instance, the ability of the peptides to induce CTL activity can be enhanced by linkage to a sequence which contains at least one epitope that is capable of inducing a T helper cell response.
  • Substitutions, deletions, insertions or any combination thereof may be combined to arrive at a final peptide. Substitutional variants are those in which at least one residue of a peptide has been removed and a different residue inserted in its place. Such substitutions generally are made in accordance with the following TABLE 70 when it is desired to finely modulate the characteristics of the peptide.
  • The peptides may also comprise isosteres of two or more residues in the MHC-binding peptide. An isostere as defined here is a sequence of two or more residues that can be substituted for a second sequence because the steric conformation of the first sequence fits a binding site specific for the second sequence. The term specifically includes peptide backbone modifications well known to those skilled in the art. Such modifications include modifications of the amide nitrogen, the α-carbon, amide carbonyl, complete replacement of the amide bond, extensions, deletions or backbone crosslinks. See, generally, Spatola, Chemistry and Biochemistry of Amino Acids, Peptides and Proteins, Vol. VII (Weinstein ed., 1983).
  • Modifications of peptides with various amino acid mimetics or unnatural amino acids are particularly useful in increasing the stability of the peptide in vivo. Stability can be assayed in a number of ways. For instance, peptidases and various biological media, such as human plasma and serum, have been used to test stability. See, e.g., Verhoef et al., Eur. J. Drug Metab. Pharmacokin. 11:291-302 (1986). Half life of the peptides of the present invention is conveniently determined using a 25% human serum (v/v) assay. The protocol is generally as follows. Pooled human serum (Type AB, non-heat inactivated) is delipidated by centrifugation before use. The serum is then diluted to 25% with RPMI tissue culture media and used to test peptide stability. At predetermined time intervals a small amount of reaction solution is removed and added to either 6% aqueous trichloracetic acid or ethanol. The cloudy reaction sample is cooled (4° C.) for 15 minutes and then spun to pellet the precipitated serum proteins. The presence of the peptides is then determined by reversed-phase HPLC using stability-specific chromatography conditions.
  • Such analogs may also possess improved shelf-life or manufacturing properties. More specifically, non-critical amino acids need not be limited to those naturally occurring in proteins, such as L-α-amino acids, or their D-isomers, but may include non-natural amino acids as well, such as amino acids mimetics, e.g. D- or L-naphylalanine; D- or L-phenylglycine; D- or L-2-thieneylalanine; D- or L-1, -2,3-, or 4-pyreneylalanine; D- or L-3 thieneylalanine; D- or L-(2-pyridinyl)-alanine; D- or L-(3-pyridinyl)-alanine; D- or L-(2-pyrazinyl)-alanine; D- or L-(4-isopropyl)-phenylglycine; D-(trifluoromethyl)-phenylglycine; D-(trifluoromethyl)-phenylalanine; D-ρ-fluorophenylalanine; D- or L-ρ-biphenylphenylalanine; D- or L-ρ-methoxybiphenylphenylalanine; D- or L-2-indole(alkyl)alanines; and, D- or L-alkylalanines, where the alkyl group can be a substituted or unsubstituted methyl, ethyl, propyl, hexyl, butyl, pentyl, isopropyl, iso-butyl, sec-isotyl, iso-pentyl, or a non-acidic amino acids. Aromatic rings of a nonnatural amino acid include, e.g., thiazolyl, thiophenyl, pyrazolyl, benzimidazolyl, naphthyl, furanyl, pyrrolyl, and pyridyl aromatic rings.
  • Another embodiment for generating effective peptide analogs involves the substitution of residues that have an adverse impact on peptide stability or solubility in, e.g., a liquid environment. This substitution may occur at any position of the peptide epitope. Analogs of the present invention may include peptides containing substitutions to modify the physical property (e.g., stability or solubility) of the resulting peptide. For example, a cysteine (C) can be substituted out in favor of α-amino butyric acid. Due to its chemical nature, cysteine has the propensity to form disulfide bridges and sufficiently alter the peptide structurally so as to reduce binding capacity. Substituting α-amino butyric acid for C not only alleviates this problem, but actually improves binding and crossbinding capability in certain instances (see, e.g., the review by Sette et al., In: Persistent Viral Infections, Eds. R. Ahmed and I. Chen, John Wiley & Sons, England, 1999). Substitution of cysteine with α-amino butyric acid may occur at any residue of a peptide epitope, i.e. at either anchor or non-anchor positions.
  • The binding activity, particularly modification of binding affinity or cross-reactivity among HLA supertype family members, of peptides of the invention can also be altered using analoging, which is described in co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 09/226,775 filed Jan. 6, 1999. In brief, the analoging strategy utilizes the motifs or supermotifs that correlate with binding to certain HLA molecules. Analog peptides can be created by substituting amino acid residues at primary anchor, secondary anchor, or at primary and secondary anchor positions. Generally, analogs are made for peptides that already bear a motif or supermotif. For a number of the motifs or supermotifs in accordance with the invention, residues are defined which are deleterious to binding to allele-specific HLA molecules or members of HLA supertypes that bind the respective motif or supermotif (see, e.g., Rupert et al. Cell 74:929, 1993; Sidney, J. et al., Hu. Immunol. 45:79, 1996; and Sidney et al.; Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247, 1995). Accordingly, removal of such residues that are detrimental to binding can be performed in accordance with the present invention. For example, in the case of the A3 supertype, when all peptides that have such deleterious residues are removed from the population of peptides used in the analysis, the incidence of cross-reactivity increased from 22% to 37% (see, e.g., Sidney, J. et al., Hu. Immunol. 45:79, 1996).
  • Thus, one strategy to improve the cross-reactivity of peptides within a given supermotif is simply to delete one or more of the deleterious residues present within a peptide and substitute a small “neutral” residue such as Ala (that may not influence T cell recognition of the peptide). An enhanced likelihood of cross-reactivity is expected if, together with elimination of detrimental residues within a peptide, “preferred” residues associated with high affinity binding to an allele-specific HLA molecule or to multiple HLA molecules within a superfamily are inserted.
  • To ensure that an analog peptide, when used as a vaccine, actually elicits a CTL response to the native epitope in vivo, the analog peptide may be used to induce T cells in vitro from individuals of the appropriate HLA allele. Thereafter, the immunized cells' capacity to lyse wild type peptide sensitized target cells is evaluated. Alternatively, evaluation of the cells' activity can be evaluated by monitoring IFN release. Each of these cell monitoring strategies evaluate the recognition of the APC by the CTL. It will be desirable to use as antigen presenting cells, typically cells that have been either infected, or transfected with the appropriate genes to establish whether endogenously produced antigen is also recognized by the T cells induced by the analog peptide. It is to be noted that peptide/protein-pulsed dendritic cells can be used to present whole protein antigens for both HLA class I and class II.
  • Another embodiment of the invention is to create analogs of weak binding peptides, to thereby ensure adequate numbers of cellular binders. Class I binding peptides exhibiting binding affinities of 500-5000 nM, and carrying an acceptable but suboptimal primary anchor residue at one or both positions can be “fixed” by substituting preferred anchor residues in accordance with the respective supertype. The analog peptides can then be tested for binding and/or cross-binding capacity.
  • Another embodiment of the invention is to create analogs of peptides that are already cross-reactive binders and are vaccine candidates, but which bind weakly to one or more alleles of a supertype. If the cross-reactive binder carries a suboptimal residue (less preferred or deleterious) at a primary or secondary anchor position, the peptide can be analoged by substituting out a deleterious residue and replacing it with a preferred or less preferred one, or by substituting out a less preferred reside and replacing it with a preferred one. The analog peptide can then be tested for cross-binding capacity.
  • The present invention provides methods for creating analogs of immunogenic peptides, as well as the analogs themselves. Analoging can comprise selection of desired residues at the primary and/or secondary anchor positions, thereby altering the binding affinity and immune modulating properties of the resulting analogs. Examples of modulations that may be achieved using the present invention include preparation of analogs with increased affinity for a particular HLA molecule (e.g., adding by substitution preferred secondary anchor residues specific for the molecule); preparation of analogs with increased cross-reactivity among different alleles (e.g., by substitution at a secondary or primary anchor position with a residue shared by more than one HLA molecule); or by production of a subdominant epitope (e.g., by substitution of residues which increase affinity but are not present on the immunodominant epitope). Peptides bearing epitopes may be modified (e.g., having analogs created thereof) to provide certain desired attributes, e.g., improved pharmacological characteristics, while increasing or at least retaining the ability to bind the desired HLA protein and, e.g., to activate the desired T cell. Moreover, peptides which lack a desired activity can be modified so as to thereby have that activity. In a presently preferred embodiment, a deleterious or non-preferred residue is removed and a preferred residue is substituted, preferred residues having been defined on the basis of a correlation with an increased binding affinity of the peptide that bears that particular motif or supermotif for the HLA molecule to which the peptide is bound.
  • The peptides can also be modified by extending or decreasing the compound's amino acid sequence, e.g., by the addition or deletion of amino acids; for this embodiment it is generally preferred to add amino acids. If amino acids are added for class I restricted peptides, they are preferably added between the second amino acid from the N terminus and the C terminus (for peptides bearing a motif with primary anchors at position 2 and the C-terminus). For class II restricted peptides, amino acids can generally be added at the termini of the peptide. Peptides, including analogs, of the invention can also be modified by altering the order or composition of certain residues, it being readily appreciated that certain amino acid residues essential for biological activity, e.g., those at anchor positions, or conserved residues, may generally not be altered without an adverse effect on a biological activity. In certain contexts, however, it may be desirable to produce peptides which lead to a biological activity that might otherwise be deemed “adversely affected”.
  • Heteroclitic analog peptides of the invention are particularly useful to induce an immune response against antigens to which a patient's immune system has become tolerant. Tolerance refers to a specific immunologic nonresponsiveness induced by prior exposure to an antigen. Thus, tolerance can be overcome in the patient by identifying a particular class I peptide epitope to which a patient is tolerant, modifying the peptide epitope sequence according to the methods of the invention, and inducing an immune response that cross-reacts against the tolerized epitope (antigen). Overcoming tolerance is particularly desirable, for example, when a patient's immune system is tolerant of a viral or tumor-associated antigen, the latter antigens being often over-expressed self-proteins as a consequence of cell transformation. Heteroclitic analoging is described in co-pending U.S. provisional application No. 60/166,529 filed Nov. 18, 1999 and US provisional application for “Heteroclitic Analogs And Related Methods”, Tangri et al., inventors, Attorney Docket number 018623-015810US, filed Oct. 6, 2000.
  • The peptides of the present invention or analogs thereof which have CTL stimulating activity may be modified to provide desired attributes other than improved serum half life. For instance, the ability of the peptides to induce CTL activity can be enhanced by linkage to a sequence which contains at least one epitope that is capable of inducing a T helper cell response.
  • In some embodiments, the T helper peptide is one that is recognized by T helper cells in the majority of the population. This can be accomplished by selecting amino acid sequences that bind to many, most, or all of the MHC class II molecules. These are known as “loosely MHC-restricted” T helper sequences. Examples of amino acid sequences that are loosely MHC-restricted include sequences from antigens such as Tetanus toxin at positions 830-843 (QYIKANSKFIGITE (SEQ ID NO:______)), Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite (CS) protein at positions 378-398 (DIEKKIAKMEKASSVFNVVNS (SEQ ID NO:______)), and Streptococcus 18 kD protein at positions 1-16 (YGAVDSILGGVATYGAA (SEQ ID NO:______)). Further examples of amino acid sequences that are recognized by HTL present in a broad segments of the population are sequences that bear the DR supermotif as shown in TABLE 139.
  • Alternatively, it is possible to prepare synthetic peptides capable of stimulating T helper lymphocytes, in a loosely MHC-restricted fashion, using amino acid sequences not found in nature (see, e.g., PCT publication WO 95/07707). These synthetic compounds, called Pan-DR-binding epitopes or PADRE® molecules (Epimmune, San Diego, Calif.), are designed on the basis of their binding activity to most HLA-DR (human MHC class II) molecules (see, e.g., U.S. Ser. No. 08/121,101 (now abandoned) and related U.S. Ser. No. 08/305,871 (now U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,142)). For instance, a pan-DR-binding epitope peptide having the formula: aKXVWANTLKAAa, where X is either cyclohexylalanine, phenylalanine, or tyrosine, and “a” is either D-alanine or L-alanine, has been found to bind to most HLA-DR alleles, and to stimulate the response of T helper lymphocytes from most individuals, regardless of their HLA type.
  • Particularly preferred immunogenic peptides/T helper conjugates are linked by a spacer molecule. The spacer is typically comprised of relatively small, neutral molecules, such as amino acids or amino acid mimetics, which are substantially uncharged under physiological conditions. The spacers are typically selected from, e.g., Ala, Gly, or other neutral spacers of nonpolar amino acids or neutral polar amino acids. It will be understood that the optionally present spacer need not be comprised of the same residues and thus may be a hetero- or homo-oligomer. When present, the spacer will usually be at least one or two residues, more usually three to six residues. Alternatively, the CTL peptide may be linked to the T helper peptide without a spacer.
  • The immunogenic peptide may be linked to the T helper peptide either directly or via a spacer either at the amino or carboxy terminus of the CTL peptide. The amino terminus of either the immunogenic peptide or the T helper peptide may be acylated. The T helper peptides used in the invention can be modified in the same manner as CTL peptides. For instance, they may be modified to include D-amino acids or be conjugated to other molecules such as lipids, proteins, sugars and the like. Exemplary T helper peptides include tetanus toxoid 830-843, influenza 307-319, malaria circumsporozoite 382-398 and 378-389.
  • In some embodiments it may be desirable to include in the pharmaceutical compositions of the invention at least one component which primes CTL. Lipids have been identified as agents capable of priming CTL in vivo against viral antigens. For example, palmitic acid residues can be attached to the alpha and epsilon amino groups of a Lys residue and then linked, e.g., via one or more linking residues such as Gly, Gly-Gly-, Ser, Ser-Ser, or the like, to an immunogenic peptide. The lipidated peptide can then be injected directly in a micellar form, incorporated into a liposome or emulsified in an adjuvant, e.g., incomplete Freund's adjuvant. In a preferred embodiment a particularly effective immunogen comprises palmitic acid attached to alpha and epsilon amino groups of Lys, which is attached via linkage, e.g., Ser-Ser, to the amino terminus of the immunogenic peptide. Also in a preferred embodiment a particularly effective immunogen comprises palmitic acid attached to alpha and epsilon amino groups of Lys, which is attached via linkage, e.g., Ser-Ser, to the amino terminus of a class I restricted peptide having T cell determinants, such as those peptides described herein as well as other peptides which have been identified as having such determinants.
  • As another example of lipid priming of CTL responses, E. coli lipoproteins, such as tripalmitoyl-S-glycerylcysteinlyseryl-serine (P3CSS) can be used to prime virus specific CTL when covalently attached to an appropriate peptide. See, Deres et al., Nature 342:561-564 (1989), incorporated herein by reference. Peptides of the invention can be coupled to P3CSS, for example, and the lipopeptide administered to an individual to specifically prime a CTL response to the target antigen. Further, as the induction of neutralizing antibodies can also be primed with P3CSS conjugated to a peptide which displays an appropriate epitope, the two compositions can be combined to more effectively elicit both humoral and cell-mediated responses to infection.
  • In addition, additional amino acids can be added to the termini of a peptide to provide for ease of linking peptides one to another, for coupling to a carrier support, or larger peptide, for modifying the physical or chemical properties of the peptide or oligopeptide, or the like. Amino acids such as tyrosine, cysteine, lysine, glutamic or aspartic acid, or the like, can be introduced at the C- or N-terminus of the peptide or oligopeptide. Modification at the C terminus in some cases may alter binding characteristics of the peptide. In addition, the peptide or oligopeptide sequences can differ from the natural sequence by being modified by terminal-NH2 acylation, e.g., by alkanoyl (C1-C20) or thioglycolyl acetylation, terminal-carboxyl amidation, e.g., ammonia, methylamine, etc. In some instances these modifications may provide sites for linking to a support or other molecule.
  • The peptides of the invention can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. Because of their relatively short size, the peptides can be synthesized in solution or on a solid support in accordance with conventional techniques. Various automatic synthesizers are commercially available and can be used in accordance with known protocols. See, for example, Stewart and Young, Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis, 2d. ed., Pierce Chemical Co. (1984), supra.
  • Another aspect of the present invention is directed to vaccines which comprise an immunogenically effective amount of one or more peptides as described herein. Peptides may be introduced into a host using a variety of delivery vehicles known to those of skill in the art including PLG microspheres with entrapped peptides and virus-like particles. Furthermore, epitopes may be introduced as multiple antigen peptides (MAPs) (see e.g., Mora and Tam, J. Immunol. 161:3616-23 (1998)), or as immunostimulating complexes (ISCOMS) (see e.g., Hu et al. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 113:235-43 (1998)) as known in the art.
  • Vaccines that contain an immunogenically effective amount of one or more peptides as described herein are a further embodiment of the invention. Once appropriately immunogenic epitopes have been defined, they can be delivered by various means, herein referred to as “vaccine” compositions. Such vaccine compositions can include, for example, lipopeptides (e.g., Vitiello, A. et al., J: Clin. Invest. 95:341, 1995), peptide compositions encapsulated in poly(DL-lactide-co-glycolide) (“PLG”) microspheres (see, e.g., Eldridge, et al., Molec. Immunol. 28:287-294, 1991: Alonso et al., Vaccine 12:299-306, 1994; Jones et al., Vaccine 13:675-681, 1995), peptide compositions contained in immune stimulating complexes (ISCOMS) (see, e.g., Takahashi et al., Nature 344:873-875, 1990; Hu et al., Clin Exp Immunol. 113:235-24: 1998), multiple antigen peptide systems (MAPs) (see e.g., Tam, J. P., Proc. Natl. Acaa Sci. U.S.A. 85:5409-5413, 1988; Tam, J P., J Immunol. Methods 196:17-32, 1996), vir delivery vectors (Perkus, M. E. et al., In: Concepts in vaccine development, Kaufmann H. E., ed., p. 379, 1996; Chakrabarti, S. et al., Nature 320:535, 1986; Hu, S. L. et al., Nature 320:537, 1986; Kieny, M.-P. et al., AIDS Bio/Technology 4:790, 1986; Top, F. et al., J Infect. Dis. 124:148, 1971; Chanda, P. K. et al., Virology 175:535, 1990), particles of viral or synthetic origin (e.g., Kofler, N. et al., J Immunol. Methods. 192:2-1996; Eldridge, J. H. et al., Sem. Bematol. 30:16, 1993; Fa10, L. D., Jr. et al., Nature Med. 7:649, 1995), adjuvants (Warren, H. S., Vogel, F. R., and Chedid, L. A. Annu. Re Immunol. 4:369, 1986; Gupta, R. K. et al., Vaccine 11:293, 1993), liposomes (Reddy, R et al., J. Immunol. 148:1585, 1992; Rock, K. L., Immunol. Today 17:131, 1996), or, naked or particle absorbed cDNA (Ulmer, J. B. et al., Science 259:1745, 1993; Robinsol H. L., Hunt, L. A., and Webster, R. G., Vaccine 11:957, 1993; Shiver, J. W. et al., In: Concepts in vaccine development, Kaufmann, S. H. E., ed., p. 423, 1996; Cease, K. B., and Berzofsky, J. A., Annu. Rev. Immunol. 12:923, 1994 and Eldridge, J. H. et al., Sem. Hematol. 30:16, 1993). Toxin-targeted delivery technologies, also known as receptor mediated targeting, such as those of Avant Immunotherapeutics, Inc. (Needham, Mass.) may also be used.
  • Vaccine compositions of the invention include nucleic acid-mediated modalities. DNA or RNA encoding one or more of the peptides of the invention can also be administered to a patient. This approach is described, for instance, in Wolff et. al., Science 247: 1465 (1990) as well as U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,580,859; 5,589,466; 5,804,566; 5,739,118; 5,736,524; 5,679,647; WO 98/04720; and in more detail below. Examples of DNA-based delivery technologies include “naked DNA”, facilitated (bupivicaine, polymers, peptide-mediated) delivery, cationic lipid complexes, and particle-mediated (“gene gun”) or pressure-mediated delivery (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,922,687).
  • For therapeutic or prophylactic immunization purposes, the peptides of the invention can be expression vectors include attenuated viral hosts, such as vaccinia or fowlpox. This approach involves the use of vaccinia virus, for example, as a vector to express nucleotide sequences that encode the pep tides of the invention. Upon introduction into an acutely or chronically infected host or into a non-infected host, the recombinant vaccinia virus expresses the immunogenic peptide, and thereby elicits a host CTL and/or HTL response. Vaccinia vectors and methods useful in immunization protocols are described in, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,722,848. Another vector is BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin). BCG vectors are described in Stover et al., Nature 351:456-460 (1991). A wide variety of other vectors useful for therapeutic administration or immunization of the peptides of the invention, e.g. adeno and adeno-associated virus vectors, retroviral vectors, Salmonella typhi vectors, detoxified anthrax toxin vectors, and the like, will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the description herein.
  • Furthermore, vaccines in accordance with the invention can encompass one or more of the peptides of the invention. Accordingly, a peptide can be present in a vaccine individually. Alternatively, the peptide can be individually linked to its own carrier; alternatively, the peptide can exist as a homopolymer comprising multiple copies of the same peptide, or as a heteropolymer of various peptides. Polymers have the advantage of increased immunological reaction and, where different peptide epitopes are used to make up the polymer, the additional ability to induce antibodies and/or CTLs that react with different antigenic determinants of the pathogenic organism or tumor-related peptide targeted for an immune response. The composition may be a naturally occurring region of an antigen or may be prepared, e.g., recombinantly or by chemical synthesis.
  • Carriers that can be used with vaccines of the invention are well known in the art, and include, e.g., thyroglobulin, albumins such as human serum albumin, tetanus toxoid, polyamino acids such as poly L-lysine, poly L-glutamic acid, influenza, hepatitis B virus core protein, and the like. The vaccines can contain a physiologically tolerable (i.e., acceptable) diluent such as water, or saline, preferably phosphate buffered saline. The vaccines also typically include an adjuvant. Adjuvants such as incomplete Freund's adjuvant, aluminum phosphate, aluminum hydroxide, or alum are examples of materials well known in the art. Additionally, CTL responses can be primed by conjugating peptides of the invention to lipids, such as tripalmitoyl-S-glycerylcysteinlyseryl-serine (P3CSS).
  • Upon immunization with a peptide composition in accordance with the invention, via injection, aerosol, oral, transdermal, transmucosal, intrapleural, intrathecal, or other suitable routes, the immune system of the host responds to the vaccine by producing large amounts of HTLs and/or CTLs specific for the desired antigen. Consequently, the host becomes at least partially immune to later infection, or at least partially resistant to developing an ongoing chronic infection, or derives at least some therapeutic benefit when the antigen was tumor-associated.
  • In certain embodiments, components that induce T cell responses are combined with components that induce antibody responses to the target antigen of interest. Thus, in certain preferred embodiments of the invention, class I peptide vaccines of the invention are combined with vaccines which induce or facilitate neutralizing antibody responses to the target antigen of interest, particularly to viral envelope antigens. A preferred embodiment of such a composition comprises class I and class II epitopes in accordance with the invention. An alternative embodiment of such a composition comprises a class I epitope in accordance with the invention, along with a PADRE® (Epimmune, San Diego, Calif.) molecule (described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,736,142).
  • For therapeutic or immunization purposes, the peptides of the invention can also be expressed by vectors. Examples of expression vectors include attenuated viral hosts, such as vaccinia or fowlpox. This approach involves the use of vaccinia virus as a vector to express nucleotide sequences that encode the peptides of the invention. Upon introduction into an acutely or chronically infected host or into a non-infected host, the recombinant vaccinia virus expresses the immunogenic peptide, and thereby elicits a host CTL response. Vaccinia vectors and methods useful in immunization protocols are described in, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,722,848. Another vector is BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin). BCG vectors are described in Stover, et al. Nature 351:456-60 (1991). A wide variety of other vectors useful for therapeutic administration or immunization of the peptides of the invention, e.g., Salmonella typhi vectors, retroviral vectors, adenoviral or adeno-associated viral vectors, and the like will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the description herein.
  • Alternatively, recombinant DNA technology may be employed wherein a nucleotide sequence which encodes an immunogenic peptide of interest is inserted into an expression vector, transformed or transfected into an appropriate host cell and cultivated under conditions suitable for expression. These procedures are generally known in the art, as described generally in Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning, A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Press, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (1982) (also 1989), which is incorporated herein by reference. Thus, fusion proteins which comprise one or more peptide sequences of the invention can be used to present the appropriate T cell epitope. For example, a coding sequence encoding a peptide of the invention can be provided with appropriate linkers and ligated into expression vectors commonly available in the art, and the vectors used to transform suitable hosts to produce the desired fusion protein. A number of such vectors and suitable host systems are now available. Expression constructs, i.e., minigenes are described in greater detail in the sections below. Such methodologies are also used to present at least one peptide of the invention along with a substance which is not a peptide of the invention.
  • As the coding sequence for peptides of the length contemplated herein can be synthesized by chemical techniques, for example, using the phosphotriester method of Matteucci et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 103:3185 (1981), with modification can be made simply by substituting the appropriate base(s) for those encoding the native peptide sequence. The coding sequence can then be provided with appropriate linkers and ligated into expression vectors commonly available in the art, and the vectors used to transform suitable hosts to produce the desired fusion protein. A number of such vectors and suitable host systems are now available. For expression of the fusion proteins, the coding sequence will be provided with operably linked start and stop codons, promoter and terminator regions and usually a replication system to provide an expression vector for expression in the desired cellular host. For example, promoter sequences compatible with bacterial hosts are provided in plasmids containing convenient restriction sites for insertion of the desired coding sequence. The resulting expression vectors are transformed into suitable bacterial hosts. Of course, yeast or mammalian cell hosts may also be used, employing suitable vectors and control sequences.
  • The peptides of the present invention and pharmaceutical and vaccine compositions thereof are useful for administration to mammals, particularly humans, to treat and/or prevent viral infection and cancer. Examples of diseases which can be treated using the immunogenic peptides of the invention include prostate cancer, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, AIDS, renal carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, lymphoma, CMV and condlyloma acuminatum.
  • For pharmaceutical compositions, the immunogenic peptides of the invention are administered to an individual already suffering from cancer or infected with the virus of interest. Those in the incubation phase or the acute phase of infection can be treated with the immunogenic peptides separately or in conjunction with other treatments, as appropriate. In therapeutic applications, compositions are administered to a patient in an amount sufficient to elicit an effective CTL response to the virus or tumor antigen and to cure or at least partially arrest symptoms and/or complications. An amount adequate to accomplish this is defined as “therapeutically effective dose” or “unit dose.” Amounts effective for this use will depend on, e.g., the peptide composition, the manner of administration, the stage and severity of the disease being treated, the weight and general state of health of the patient, and the judgment of the prescribing physician, but generally range for the initial immunization (that is for therapeutic or prophylactic administration) from about 1.0 μg to about 5000 μg of peptide for a 70 kg patient, followed by boosting dosages of from about 1.0 μg to about 1000 μg of peptide pursuant to a boosting regimen over weeks to months depending upon the patient's response and condition by measuring specific CTL activity in the patient's blood. In alternative embodiments, generally for humans the dose range for the initial immunization (that is for therapeutic or prophylactic administration) is from about 1.0 μg to about 20,000 μg of peptide for a 70 kg patient, preferably, 100 μg-, 150 μg-, 200 μg-, 250 μg-, 300 μg-, 400 μg-, or 500 μg-20,000 μg, followed by boosting dosages in the same dose range pursuant to a boosting regimen over weeks to months depending upon the patient's response and condition by measuring specific CTL activity in the patient's blood. In embodiments where recombinant nucleic acid administration is used, the administered material is titrated to achieve the appropriate therapeutic response.
  • It must be kept in mind that the peptides and compositions of the present invention may generally be employed in serious disease states, that is, life-threatening or potentially life threatening situations. In such cases, in view of the minimization of extraneous substances and the relative nontoxic nature of the peptides, it is possible and may be felt desirable by the treating physician to administer substantial excesses of these peptide compositions.
  • For therapeutic use, administration should begin at the first sign of viral infection or the detection or surgical removal of tumors or shortly after diagnosis in the case of acute infection. This is followed by boosting doses until at least symptoms are substantially abated and for a period thereafter. In chronic infection, loading doses followed by boosting doses may be required.
  • Treatment of an infected individual with the compositions of the invention may hasten resolution of the infection in acutely infected individuals. For those individuals susceptible (or predisposed) to developing chronic infection the compositions are particularly useful in methods for preventing the evolution from acute to chronic infection. Where the susceptible individuals are identified prior to or during infection, for instance, as described herein, the composition can be targeted to them, minimizing need for administration to a larger population.
  • The peptide compositions can also be used for the treatment of chronic infection and to stimulate the immune system to eliminate virus-infected cells in carriers. It is important to provide an amount of immuno-potentiating peptide in a formulation and mode of administration sufficient to effectively stimulate a cytotoxic T cell response. Thus, for treatment of chronic infection, a representative dose is in the range of about 1.0 μg to about 5000 μg, preferably about 5 μg to 1000 μg for a 70 kg patient per dose. Immunizing doses followed by boosting doses at established intervals, e.g., from one to four weeks, may be required, possibly for a prolonged period of time to effectively immunize an individual. In the case of chronic infection, administration should continue until at least clinical symptoms or laboratory tests indicate that the viral infection has been eliminated or substantially abated and for a period thereafter.
  • The pharmaceutical compositions for therapeutic treatment are intended for parenteral, topical, oral or local administration. Preferably, the pharmaceutical compositions are administered parenterally, e.g., intravenously, subcutaneously, intradermally, or intramuscularly. Thus, the invention provides compositions for parenteral administration which comprise a solution of the immunogenic peptides dissolved or suspended in an acceptable carrier, preferably an aqueous carrier. A variety of aqueous carriers may be used, e.g., water, buffered water, 0.8% saline, 0.3% glycine, hyaluronic acid and the like. These compositions may be sterilized by conventional, well known sterilization techniques, or may be sterile filtered. The resulting aqueous solutions may be packaged for use as is, or lyophilized, the lyophilized preparation being combined with a sterile solution prior to administration. The compositions may contain pharmaceutically acceptable auxiliary substances as required to approximate physiological conditions, such as pH adjusting and buffering agents, tonicity adjusting agents, wetting agents and the like, for example, sodium acetate, sodium lactate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sorbitan monolaurate, triethanolamine oleate, etc.
  • A pharmaceutical composition of the invention may comprise one or more T cell stimulatory peptides of the invention. For example, a pharmaceutical composition may comprise 1,2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or more T cell stimulatory peptides of the invention. Moreover, a pharmaceutical composition of the invention may comprise one or more T cell stimulatory peptides of the invention in combination with one or more other T cell stimulatory peptides. The concentration of each unique T cell stimulatory peptide of the invention in the pharmaceutical formulations can vary widely, e.g., from less than about 0.001%, about 0.002%, about 0.003%, about 0.004%, about 0.005%, about 0.006%, 0.007%, 0.008%, 0.009%, about 0.01%, about 0.02%, about 0.025%, about 0.03%, about 0.04%, about 0.05%, about 0.06%, about 0.07%, about 0.08%, about 0.09%, about 0.1%, about 0.2%, about 0.3%, about 0.4%, about 0.5%, about 0.6%, about 0.7%, about 0.8%, about 0.9%, about 1%, about 1.1%, about 1.2%, about 1.3%, about 1.4%, about 1.5%, about 1.6%, about 1.7%, about 1.8%, about 1.9%, about 2%, about 3%, about 4%, about 5%, about 6%, about 7%, about 8%, about 9%, about 10%, about 20%, to about 50% or more by weight, and will be selected primarily by fluid volumes, viscosities, etc., in accordance with the particular mode of administration selected. In a preferred embodiment, the concentration of each unique T cell stimulatory peptide of the invention in the pharmaceutical formulations is about 0.001%, about 0.002%, about 0.003%, about 0.004%, about 0.005%, about 0.006%, 0.007%, 0.008%, 0.009%, about 0.01%, about 0.02%, about 0.025%, about 0.03%, about 0.04%, about 0.05%, about 0.06%, about 0.07%, about 0.08%, about 0.09%, about 0.1%, about 0.2%, about 0.3%, about 0.4%, about 0.5%, about 0.6%, about 0.7%, about 0.8%, about 0.9%, about 1% by weight. In a more preferred embodiment, the concentration of each unique T cell stimulatory peptide of the invention in the pharmaceutical formulations is about 0.01%, about 0.02%, about 0.025%, about 0.03%, about 0.04%, about 0.05%, about 0.06%, about 0.07%, about 0.08%, about 0.09%, about 0.1% by weight.
  • The concentration of CTL stimulatory peptides of the invention in the pharmaceutical formulations can vary widely, i.e., from less than about 0.1%, usually at or at least about 2% to as much as 20% to 50% or more by weight, and will be selected primarily by fluid volumes, viscosities, etc., in accordance with the particular mode of administration selected. A human unit dose form of the peptide composition is typically included in a pharmaceutical composition that comprises a human unit dose of an acceptable carrier, preferably an aqueous carrier, and is administered in a volume of fluid that is known by those of skill in the art to be used for administration of such compositions to humans.
  • The peptides of the invention may also be administered via liposomes, which serve to target the peptides to a particular tissue, such as lymphoid tissue, or targeted selectively to infected cells, as well as increase the half-life of the peptide composition. Liposomes include emulsions, foams, micelles, insoluble monolayers, liquid crystals, phospholipid dispersions, lamellar layers and the like. In these preparations the peptide to be delivered is incorporated as part of a liposome, alone or in conjunction with a molecule which binds to, e.g., a receptor prevalent among lymphoid cells, such as monoclonal antibodies which bind to the CD45 antigen, or with other therapeutic or immunogenic compositions. Thus, liposomes either filled or decorated with a desired peptide of the invention can be directed to the site of lymphoid cells, where the liposomes then deliver the selected therapeutic/immunogenic peptide compositions. Liposomes for use in the invention are formed from standard vesicle-forming lipids, which generally include neutral and negatively charged phospholipids and a sterol, such as cholesterol. The selection of lipids is generally guided by consideration of, e.g., liposome size, acid lability and stability of the liposomes in the blood stream. A variety of methods are available for preparing liposomes, as described in, e.g., Szoka et al., Ann. Rev. Biophys. Bioeng. 9:467 (1980), U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,235,871, 4,501,728, 4,837,028, and 5,019,369, incorporated herein by reference.
  • For targeting to the immune cells, a ligand to be incorporated into the liposome can include, e.g., antibodies or fragments thereof specific for cell surface determinants of the desired immune system cells. A liposome suspension containing a peptide may be administered intravenously, locally, topically, etc. in a dose which varies according to, inter alia, the manner of administration, the peptide being delivered, and the stage of the disease being treated.
  • For solid compositions, conventional nontoxic solid carriers may be used which include, for example, pharmaceutical grades of mannitol, lactose, starch, magnesium stearate, sodium saccharin, talcum, cellulose, glucose, sucrose, magnesium carbonate, and the like. For oral administration, a pharmaceutically acceptable nontoxic composition is formed by incorporating any of the normally employed excipients, such as those carriers previously listed, and generally 10-95% of active ingredient, that is, one or more peptides of the invention, and more preferably at a concentration of 25%-75%.
  • For aerosol administration, the immunogenic peptides are preferably supplied in finely divided form along with a surfactant and propellant. Typical percentages of peptides are 0.01%-20% by weight, preferably 1%-10%. The surfactant must, of course, be nontoxic, and preferably soluble in the propellant. Representative of such agents are the esters or partial esters of fatty acids containing from 6 to 22 carbon atoms, such as caproic, octanoic, lauric, palmitic, stearic, linoleic, linolenic, olesteric and oleic acids with an aliphatic polyhydric alcohol or its cyclic anhydride. Mixed esters, such as mixed or natural glycerides may be employed. The surfactant may constitute 0.1%-20% by weight of the composition, preferably 0.25-5%. The balance of the composition is ordinarily propellant. A carrier can also be included, as desired, as with, e.g., lecithin for intranasal delivery.
  • In another aspect the present invention is directed to vaccines which contain as an active ingredient an immunogenically effective amount of an immunogenic peptide as described herein. The peptide(s) may be introduced into a host, including humans, linked to its own carrier or as a homopolymer or heteropolymer of active peptide units. Such a polymer has the advantage of increased immunological reaction and, where different peptides are used to make up the polymer, the additional ability to induce antibodies and/or CTLs that react with different antigenic determinants of the virus or tumor cells. Useful carriers are well known in the art, and include, e.g., thyroglobulin, albumins such as human serum albumin, tetanus toxoid, polyamino acids such as poly(lysine:glutamic acid), influenza, hepatitis B virus core protein, hepatitis B virus recombinant vaccine and the like. The vaccines can also contain a physiologically tolerable (acceptable) diluent such as water, phosphate buffered saline, or saline, and further typically include an adjuvant. Adjuvants such as incomplete Freund's adjuvant, aluminum phosphate, aluminum hydroxide, or alum are materials well known in the art. And, as mentioned above, CTL responses can be primed by conjugating peptides of the invention to lipids, such as P3CSS. Upon immunization with a peptide composition as described herein, via injection, aerosol, oral, transdermal or other route, the immune system of the host responds to the vaccine by producing large amounts of CTLs specific for the desired antigen, and the host becomes at least partially immune to later infection, or resistant to developing chronic infection.
  • The peptides of the present invention and pharmaceutical and vaccine compositions of the invention are useful for administration to mammals, particularly humans, to treat and/or prevent infections or cancer. Vaccine compositions containing the peptides of the invention are administered to a patient susceptible to or otherwise at risk of viral infection or cancer to elicit an immune response against the antigen and thus enhance the patient's own immune response capabilities. Such an amount is defined to be an “immunogenically effective dose.” In this use, the precise amounts again depend on the patient's state of health and weight, the mode of administration, the nature of the formulation, etc., but generally range from about 1.0 μg to about 5000 μg per 70 kilogram patient, more commonly from about 10 μg to about 500 μg mg per 70 kg of body weight.
  • In some instances it may be desirable to combine the peptide vaccines of the invention with vaccines which induce neutralizing antibody responses to the virus of interest, particularly to viral envelope antigens.
  • The peptides can be used to treat any number of infectious diseases, such as viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. Suitable antigens are disclosed, for instance, in WO 94/20127 and WO 94/03205. Examples of diseases which can be treated using the immunogenic peptides of the invention include neoplastic disease such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, renal carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, and lymphoma; and infectious conditions such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, AIDS, CMV, tuberculosis, malaria, and condlyloma acuminatum.
  • As noted herein, the peptides of the invention induce CTL or HTL immune responses when contacted with a CTL or HTL specific to an epitope comprised by the peptide. The manner in which the peptide is contacted with the CTL or HTL is not critical to the invention. For instance, the peptide can be contacted with the CTL or HTL either in vivo or in vitro. If the contacting occurs in vivo, the peptide itself can be administered to the patient or other vehicles, e.g., DNA vectors encoding one or more peptide, viral vectors encoding the peptide(s), liposomes and the like, can be used, as described herein.
  • For pharmaceutical compositions, the immunogenic peptides, or DNA encoding them, are administered to an individual already suffering from cancer or infected with a pathogen. The peptides or DNA encoding them can be administered individually or as fusions of one or more of the peptide sequences disclosed here. Those in the incubation phase or the acute phase of infection can be treated with the immunogenic peptides separately or in conjunction with other treatments, as appropriate. In therapeutic applications, compositions are administered to a patient in an amount sufficient to elicit an effective CTL or HTL response to the pathogen or tumor antigen and to cure or at least partially arrest or slow symptoms and/or complications. An amount adequate to accomplish this falls within the present definition of “therapeutically effective dose.” Amounts effective for this use will depend on, e.g., the particular composition administered, the manner of administration, the stage and severity of the disease being treated, the weight and general state of health of the patient, and the judgment of the prescribing physician. Generally the dosage range for an initial immunization (i.e., therapeutic or prophylactic administration) is from about 1.0 μg to about 5000 μg of peptide for a 70 kg patient, more typically 10 μg to 500 μg, followed by boosting dosages of from about 1.0 μg to about 1000 μg of peptide pursuant to a boosting regimen over weeks to months depending upon the patient's response and condition by measuring specific CTL activity in the patient's blood. The peptides and compositions of the present invention are often employed in serious disease states, that is, life-threatening or potentially life threatening situations. In such cases, upon use of purified compositions of the invention, the relative nontoxic nature of the peptides, it may be felt desirable by the treating physician to administer substantial excesses of these peptide compositions relative to these stated dosage amounts.
  • For therapeutic use, administration should generally begin at the first diagnosis of infection or cancer. This is followed by boosting doses until at least symptoms are substantially abated and for a period thereafter. In chronic infection, loading doses followed by boosting doses may be required.
  • Treatment of an infected individual with a peptide or composition of the invention may hasten resolution of the infection in acutely infected individuals. For those individuals susceptible (or predisposed) to developing chronic infection, the compositions are particularly useful in methods for preventing the evolution from acute to chronic infection. Where susceptible individuals are identified prior to or during infection, the composition can be targeted to them, minimizing need for administration to a larger population.
  • The peptide or compositions in accordance with the invention can also be used for the treatment of chronic infection and to stimulate the immune system to eliminate pathogen-infected cells in, e.g., persons who have not manifested symptoms of disease but act as a disease vector. In this context, it is generally important to provide an amount of immuno-potentiating peptide in a formulation and mode of administration sufficient to effectively stimulate a cytotoxic T cell response. Immunizing doses followed by boosting doses at an interval, e.g., from three weeks to six months, may be required (possibly for a prolonged period of time) to effectively immunize an individual. In the case of chronic infection, administration should continue until at least clinical symptoms or laboratory tests indicate that the viral infection has been eliminated or substantially abated and for a period thereafter. The dosages, routes of administration, and dose schedules are adjusted in accordance with methodologies known in the art.
  • The pharmaceutical compositions for therapeutic treatment are intended for parenteral, topical, oral or local administration. Preferably, the pharmaceutical compositions are administered parentally, e.g., intravenously, subcutaneously, intradermally, or intramuscularly. Thus, the invention provides compositions for parenteral administration which comprise a solution of the immunogenic peptides dissolved or suspended in an acceptable carrier, preferably an aqueous carrier. A variety of aqueous carriers may be used, e.g., water, buffered water, 0.8% saline, 0.3% glycine, hyaluronic acid and the like. These compositions may be sterilized by conventional, well known sterilization techniques, or may be sterile filtered. The resulting aqueous solutions may be packaged for use as is, or lyophilized, the lyophilized preparation being combined with a sterile solution prior to administration. The compositions may contain pharmaceutically acceptable auxiliary substances as required to approximate physiological conditions, such as pH-adjusting and buffering agents, tonicity adjusting agents, wetting agents and the like, for example, sodium acetate, sodium lactate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sorbitan monolaurate, triethanolamine oleate, etc.
  • The concentration of peptides of the invention in the pharmaceutical formulations can vary widely, i.e., from less than about 0.1%, usually at or at least about 2% to as much as 20% to 50% or more by weight, and will be selected primarily by fluid volumes, viscosities, etc., in accordance with the particular mode of administration selected.
  • For solid compositions, conventional nontoxic solid carriers may be used which include, for example, pharmaceutical grades of mannitol, lactose, starch, magnesium stearate, sodium saccharin, talcum, cellulose, glucose, sucrose, magnesium carbonate, and the like. For oral administration, a pharmaceutically acceptable nontoxic composition is formed by incorporating any of the normally employed excipients, such as those carriers previously listed, and generally 10-95% of active ingredient, that is, one or more peptides of the invention, and more preferably at a concentration of 25%-75%.
  • For aerosol administration, the immunogenic peptides are preferably supplied in finely divided form along with a surfactant and propellant. Typical percentages of peptides are 0.01%-20% by weight, preferably 1%-10%. The surfactant should generally be nontoxic, and preferably soluble in the propellant. Representative of such agents are the esters or partial esters of fatty acids containing from 6 to 22 carbon atoms, such as caproic, octanoic, lauric, palmitic, stearic, linoleic, linolenic, olesteric and oleic acids with an aliphatic polyhydric alcohol or its cyclic anhydride. Mixed esters, such as mixed or natural glycerides may be employed. The surfactant may constitute 0.1%-20% by weight of the composition, preferably 0.25-5%. The balance of the composition is ordinarily propellant. A carrier can also be included, as desired, as with, e.g., lecithin for intranasal delivery.
  • In some instances it may be desirable to combine the peptide vaccines of the invention with vaccines which induce neutralizing antibody responses to the virus of interest, particularly to viral envelope antigens.
  • For therapeutic or immunization purposes, nucleic acids encoding one or more of the peptides of the invention can also be administered to the patient. A number of methods are conveniently used to deliver the nucleic acids to the patient. For instance, the nucleic acid can be delivered directly, as “naked DNA”. This approach is described, for instance, in Wolff et. al., Science 247: 1465-68 (1990) as well as U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,580,859 and 5,589,466. The nucleic acids can also be administered using ballistic delivery as described, for instance, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,204,253. Particles comprised solely of DNA can be administered. Alternatively, DNA can be adhered to particles, such as gold particles.
  • The nucleic acids can also be delivered complexed to cationic compounds, such as cationic lipids. Lipid-mediated gene delivery methods are described, for instance, in WO 96/18372; WO 93/24640; Mannino and Gould-Fogerite (1988) BioTechniques 6(7): 682-691; Rose U.S. Pat. No. 5,279,833; WO 91/06309; and Felgner et al. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84: 7413-14.
  • For therapeutic or immunization purposes, the peptides of the invention can also be expressed by attenuated viral hosts, such as vaccinia or fowlpox. This approach involves the use of vaccinia virus as a vector to express nucleotide sequences that encode the peptides of the invention. Upon introduction into an acutely or chronically infected host or into a noninfected host, the recombinant vaccinia virus expresses the immunogenic peptide, and thereby elicits a host CTL response. Vaccinia vectors and methods useful in immunization protocols are described in, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,722,848, incorporated herein by reference. Another vector is BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin). BCG vectors are described in Stover et al. (Nature 351:456-60 (1991)) which is incorporated herein by reference. A wide variety of other vectors useful for therapeutic administration or immunization of the peptides of the invention, e.g., Salmonella typhi vectors and the like, will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the description herein.
  • Nucleic acids encoding one or more of the peptides of the invention can also be administered to the patient. This approach is described, for instance, in Wolff, et. al., Science, 247:1465-68 (1990) as well as U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,580,859 and 5,589,466.
  • A preferred means of administering nucleic acids encoding the peptides of the invention uses minigene constructs encoding multiple epitopes of the invention. To create a DNA sequence encoding the selected CTL epitopes (minigene) for expression in human cells, the amino acid sequences of the epitopes are reverse translated. A human codon usage table is used to guide the codon choice for each amino acid. These epitope-encoding DNA sequences are directly adjoined, creating a continuous polypeptide sequence. To optimize expression and/or immunogenicity, additional elements can be incorporated into the minigene design. Examples of amino acid sequence that could be reverse translated and included in the minigene sequence include: helper T lymphocyte epitopes, a leader (signal) sequence, and an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal. In addition, MHC presentation of CTL epitopes may be improved by including synthetic (e.g. poly-alanine) or naturally-occurring flanking sequences adjacent to the CTL epitopes.
  • The minigene sequence is converted to DNA by assembling oligonucleotides that encode the plus and minus strands of the minigene. Overlapping oligonucleotides (30-100 bases long) are synthesized, phosphorylated, purified and annealed under appropriate conditions using well known techniques. The ends of the oligonucleotides are joined using T4 DNA ligase. This synthetic minigene, encoding the CTL epitope polypeptide, can then cloned into a desired expression vector.
  • Standard regulatory sequences well known to those of skill in the art are included in the vector to ensure expression in the target cells. Several vector elements are required: a promoter with a down-stream cloning site for minigene insertion; a polyadenylation signal for efficient transcription termination; an E. coli origin of replication; and an E. coli selectable marker (e.g. ampicillin or kanamycin resistance). Numerous promoters can be used for this purpose, e.g., the human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) promoter. See, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,580,859 and 5,589,466 for other suitable promoter sequences.
  • Additional vector modifications may be desired to optimize minigene expression and immunogenicity. In some cases, introns are required for efficient gene expression, and one or more synthetic or naturally-occurring introns could be incorporated into the transcribed region of the minigene. The inclusion of mRNA stabilization sequences can also be considered for increasing minigene expression. It has recently been proposed that immunostimulatory sequences (ISSs or CpGs) play a role in the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines. These sequences could be included in the vector, outside the minigene coding sequence, if found to enhance immunogenicity.
  • In some embodiments, a bicistronic expression vector, to allow production of the minigene-encoded epitopes and a second protein included to enhance or decrease immunogenicity can be used. Examples of proteins or polypeptides that could beneficially enhance the immune response if co-expressed include cytokines (e.g., IL2, IL12, GM-CSF), cytokine-inducing molecules (e.g., LeIF) or costimulatory molecules. Helper (HTL) epitopes could be joined to intracellular targeting signals and expressed separately from the CTL epitopes. This would allow direction of the HTL epitopes to a cell compartment different than the CTL epitopes. If required, this could facilitate more efficient entry of HTL epitopes into the MHC class II pathway, thereby improving CTL induction. In contrast to CTL induction, specifically decreasing the immune response by co-expression of immunosuppressive molecules (e.g. TGF-β) may be beneficial in certain diseases.
  • Once an expression vector is selected, the minigene is cloned into the polylinker region downstream of the promoter. This plasmid is transformed into an appropriate E. coli strain, and DNA is prepared using standard techniques. The orientation and DNA sequence of the minigene, as well as all other elements included in the vector, are confirmed using restriction mapping and DNA sequence analysis. Bacterial cells harboring the correct plasmid can be stored as a master cell bank and a working cell bank.
  • Therapeutic quantities of plasmid DNA are produced by fermentation in E. coli, followed by purification. Aliquots from the working cell bank are used to inoculate fermentation medium (such as Terrific Broth), and grown to saturation in shaker flasks or a bioreactor according to well known techniques. Plasmid DNA can be purified using standard bioseparation technologies such as solid phase anion-exchange resins supplied by Quiagen. If required, supercoiled DNA can be isolated from the open circular and linear forms using gel electrophoresis or other methods.
  • Purified plasmid DNA can be prepared for injection using a variety of formulations. The simplest of these is reconstitution of lyophilized DNA in sterile phosphate-buffer saline (PBS). A variety of methods have been described, and new techniques may become available. As noted above, nucleic acids are conveniently formulated with cationic lipids. In addition, glycolipids, fusogenic liposomes, peptides and compounds referred to collectively as protective, interactive, non-condensing (PINC) could also be complexed to purified plasmid DNA to influence variables such as stability, intramuscular dispersion, or trafficking to specific organs or cell types.
  • The nucleic acids can also be administered using ballistic delivery as described, for instance, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,204,253. Particles comprised solely of DNA can be administered. Alternatively, DNA can be adhered to particles, such as gold particles.
  • Target cell sensitization can be used as a functional assay for expression and MHC class I presentation of minigene-encoded CTL epitopes. The plasmid DNA is introduced into a mammalian cell line that is suitable as a target for standard CTL chromium release assays. The transfection method used will be dependent on the final formulation. Electroporation can be used for “naked” DNA, whereas cationic lipids allow direct in vitro transfection. A plasmid expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) can be co-transfected to allow enrichment of transfected cells using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). These cells are then chromium-51 labeled and used as target cells for epitope-specific CTL lines. Cytolysis, detected by 51Cr release, indicates production of MHC presentation of minigene-encoded CTL epitopes.
  • In vivo immunogenicity is a second approach for functional testing of minigene DNA formulations. Transgenic mice expressing appropriate human MHC molecules are immunized with the DNA product. The dose and route of administration are formulation dependent (e.g. IM for DNA in PBS, IP for lipid-complexed DNA). Twenty-one days after immunization, splenocytes are harvested and restimulated for 1 week in the presence of peptides encoding each epitope being tested. These effector cells (CTLs) are assayed for cytolysis of peptide-loaded, chromium-51 labeled target cells using standard techniques. Lysis of target cells sensitized by MHC loading of peptides corresponding to minigene-encoded epitopes demonstrates DNA vaccine function for in vivo induction of CTLs.
  • An embodiment of a vaccine composition in accordance with the invention comprises ex vivo administration of a cocktail of epitope-bearing peptides to PBMC, or isolated DC therefrom, from the patient's blood. After pulsing the DC with peptides and prior to reinfusion into patients, the DC are washed to remove unbound peptides. In this embodiment, a vaccine comprises peptide-pulsed DCs which present the pulsed peptide epitopes in HLA molecules on their surfaces.
  • Dendritic cells can also be transfected, e.g., with a mini gene comprising nucleic acid sequences encoding the epitopes in accordance with the invention, in order to elicit immune responses. Vaccine compositions can be created in vitro, following dendritic cell mobilization and harvesting, whereby loading of dendritic cells occurs in vitro.
  • Transgenic animals of appropriate haplotypes may additionally provide a useful tool in optimizing the in vivo immunogenicity of minigene DNA. In addition, animals such as monkeys having conserved HLA molecules with cross reactivity to CTL epitopes recognized by human MHC molecules can be used to determine human immunogenicity of CTL epitopes (Bertoni, et al., J. Immunol. 161:4447-4455 (1998)).
  • Such in vivo studies are required to address the variables crucial for vaccine development, which are not easily evaluated by in vitro assays, such as route of administration, vaccine formulation, tissue biodistribution, and involvement of primary and secondary lymphoid organs. Because of their simplicity and flexibility, HLA transgenic mice represent an attractive alternative, at least for initial vaccine development studies, compared to more cumbersome and expensive studies in higher animal species, such as nonhuman primates.
  • Antigenic peptides are used to elicit a CTL response ex vivo, as well. The resulting CTL cells, can be used to treat chronic infections, or tumors in patients that do not respond to other conventional forms of therapy, or will not respond to a therapeutic vaccine peptide or nucleic acid in accordance with the invention. Ex vivo CTL or HTL responses to a particular antigen (infectious or tumor-associated antigen) are induced by incubating in tissue culture the patient's (CTLp), or genetically compatible, CTL or HTL precursor cells together with a source of antigen-presenting cells (APC), such as dendritic cells, and the appropriate immunogenic peptide. After an appropriate incubation time (typically about 7-28 days (1-4 weeks)), in which the precursor cells are activated and matured and expanded into effector cells, the cells are infused back into the patient, where they will destroy their specific target cell (an infected cell or a tumor cell). Transfected dendritic cells may also be used as antigen presenting cells. In order to optimize the in vitro conditions for the generation of specific cytotoxic T cells, the culture of stimulator cells is maintained in an appropriate serum-free medium.
  • Antigenic peptides may be used to elicit CTL ex vivo, as well. The resulting CTL, can be used to treat chronic infections (viral or bacterial) or tumors in patients that do not respond to other conventional forms of therapy, or will not respond to a peptide vaccine approach of therapy. Ex vivo CTL responses to a particular pathogen (infectious agent or tumor antigen) are induced by incubating in tissue culture the patient's CTL precursor cells (CTLp) together with a source of antigen-presenting cells (APC) and the appropriate immunogenic peptide. After an appropriate incubation time (typically 1-4 weeks), in which the CTLp are activated and mature and expand into effector CTL, the cells are infused back into the patient, where they will destroy their specific target cell (an infected cell or a tumor cell). Transfected dendritic cells are also useful for cellular delivery of antigenic peptides.
  • The peptides may also find use as diagnostic reagents. For example, a peptide of the invention may be used to determine the susceptibility of a particular individual to a treatment regimen which employs the peptide or related peptides, and thus may be helpful in modifying an existing treatment protocol or in determining a prognosis for an affected individual. In addition, the peptides may also be used to predict which individuals will be at substantial risk for developing chronic infection.
  • For example, a peptide of the invention may be used in a tetramer staining assay to assess peripheral blood mononuclear cells for the presence of antigen-specific CTLs following exposure to a pathogen or immunogen. The HLA-tetrameric complex is used to directly visualize antigen-specific CTLs (see, e.g., Ogg, et al. Science 279:2103-2106, 1998; and Altman, et al. Science 174:94-96, 1996) and determine the frequency of the antigen-specific CTL population in a sample of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. A tetramer reagent using a peptide of the invention may be generated as follows: A peptide that binds to an allele-specific HLA molecule or supertype molecule is refolded in the presence of the corresponding HLA heavy chain and β2-microglobulin to generate a trimolecular complex. The complex is biotinylated at the carboxyl terminal end of the heavy chain at a site that was previously engineered into the protein. Tetramer formation is then induced by the addition of streptavidin. By means of fluorescently labeled streptavidin, the tetramer can be used to stain antigen-specific cells. The cells may then be identified, for example, by flow cytometry. Such an analysis may be used for diagnostic or prognostic purposes.
  • In addition, the peptides may also be used to predict which individuals will be at substantial risk for developing chronic infection.
  • All publications, patents, and patent applications cited in this specification are herein incorporated by reference as if each individual publication, patent or patent application were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.
  • Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail by way of illustration and example for purposes of clarity of understanding, it will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the teachings of this invention that certain changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit or scope of the appended claims.
  • EXAMPLES
  • The following examples are provided by way of illustration only and not by way of limitation. Those of skill in the art will readily recognize a variety of non-critical parameters that could be changed or modified to yield essentially similar results.
  • Example 1 Peptide Synthesis
  • Peptides utilized were synthesized as previously described by Ruppert, J., et al., “Prominent Role of Secondary Anchor Residues in Peptide Binding to HLA-A2.1 Molecules,” Cell, 74:929-937 (1993) or purchased as crude material from Chiron Mimotopes (Chiron Corp., Australia). Synthesized peptides were typically purified to >95% homogeneity by reverse phase HPLC. Purity of synthesized peptides was determined using analytical reverse-phase HPLC and amino acid analysis, sequencing, and/or mass spectrometry. Lyophilized peptides were resuspended at 4-20 mg/ml in 100% DMSO, then diluted to required concentrations in PBS+0.05% (v/v) NP40 (Fluka Biochemika, Buchs, Switzerland).
  • Example 2 Class I Antigen Isolation
  • Class I antigen isolation was carried out as described in the related applications, noted above. Naturally processed peptides were then isolated and sequenced as described there. An allele-specific motif and algorithms were determined and quantitative binding assays were carried out.
  • Using the motifs identified above for HLA-A2.1 allele amino acid sequences from a number of antigens were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. TABLES 147-148, TABLES 150-151, and TABLES 152-153 provide the results of these searches.
  • Isolated MHC molecules were used in a quantitative binding assay to identify the specificity and avidity of peptide-HLA interactions. Purification of HLA-A, HLA-B and HLA-C antigens were carried out by essentially similar methods, using cells and antibodies chosen as appropriate for the desired HLA molecule. A flow diagram of an HLA-A antigen purification scheme is presented in FIG. 14 and FIG. 49. Briefly, the cells bearing the appropriate allele were grown in large batches (6-8 liters yielding ˜5×109 cells), harvested by centrifugation and washed. All cell lines were maintained in RPMI 1640 media (Sigma) supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) and antibiotics.
  • For large-scale cultures, cells were grown in roller bottle culture in RPMI 1640 with 10% FBS or with 10% horse serum and antibiotics. Cells were harvested by centrifugation at 1500 RPM IEC-CRU5000 centrifuge with 259 rotor and washed three times with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (0.01 M PO4, 0.154 M NaCl, pH 7.2). Cells were pelleted and stored at −70° C. or treated with detergent lysing solution to prepare detergent lysates. Cell lysates were prepared by the addition of stock detergent solution [1% NP-40 (Sigma) or Renex 30 (Accurate Chem. Sci. Corp., Westbury, N.Y. 11590), 150 mM NaCl, 50 mM Tris, pH 8.0] to the cell pellets (previously counted) at a ratio of 50-100×106 cells per ml detergent solution. A cocktail of protease inhibitors was added to the premeasured volume of stock detergent solution immediately prior to the addition to the cell pellet. Addition of the protease inhibitor cocktail produced final concentrations of the following: phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF), 2 mM; aprotinin, 5 μg/ml; leupeptin, 10 μg/ml; pepstatin, 10 μg/ml; iodoacetamide, 100 μM; and EDTA, 3 ng/ml. Cell lysis was allowed to proceed at 4° C. for 1 hour with periodic mixing. Routinely 5-10×109 cells were lysed in 50-100 ml of detergent solution. The lysate was clarified by centrifugation at 15,000×g for 30 minutes at 4° C. and subsequent passage of the supernatant fraction through a 0.2μ filter unit (Nalgene). Cell lines used for HLA-B and -C isolations are provided in TABLE 23.
  • The HLA antigen purification was achieved using affinity columns prepared with mAb-conjugated Sepharose beads. For antibody production, cells were grown in RPMI with 10% FBS in large tissue culture flasks (Corning 25160-225). Antibodies were purified from clarified tissue culture medium by ammonium sulfate fractionation followed by affinity chromatography on protein-A-Sepharose (Sigma). Briefly, saturated ammonium sulfate was added slowly with stirring to the tissue culture supernatant to 45% (volume to volume) overnight at 4° C. to precipitate the immunoglobulins. The precipitated proteins were harvested by centrifugation at 10,000×g for 30 minutes. The precipitate was then dissolved in a minimum volume of PBS and transferred to dialysis tubing (Spectro/Por 2, Mol. wt. cutoff 12,000-14,000, Spectum Medical Ind.). Dialysis was against PBS (≧20 times the protein solution volume) with 4-6 changes of dialysis buffer over a 24-48 hour period at 4° C. The dialyzed protein solution was clarified by centrifugation (10,000×g for 30 minutes) and the pH of the solution adjusted to pH 8.0 with 1N NaOH. Protein-A-Sepharose (Sigma) was hydrated according to the manufacturer's instructions, and a protein-A-Sepharose column was prepared. A column of 10 ml bed volume typically binds 50-100 mg of mouse IgG.
  • The protein sample was loaded onto the protein-A-Sepharose column using a peristaltic pump for large loading volumes or by gravity for smaller volumes (<100 ml). The column was washed with several volumes of PBS, and the eluate was monitored at A280 in a spectrophotometer until base line was reached. The bound antibody was eluted using 0.1 M citric acid at suitable pH (adjusted to the appropriate pH with 1N NaOH). For mouse IgG-1 pH 6.5 was used for IgG2a pH 4.5 was used and for IgG2b and IgG3 pH 3.0 was used. 2 M Tris base was used to neutralize the eluate. Fractions containing the antibody (monitored by A280) were pooled, dialyzed against PBS and further concentrated using an Amicon Stirred Cell system (Amicon Model 8050 with YM30 membrane). Antibodies were used for affinity purification of HLA-B and HLA-C molecules are provided in TABLE 24.
  • The HLA antigens were purified using affinity columns prepared with mAb-conjugated Sepharose beads. The affinity columns were prepared by incubating protein-A-Sepharose beads (Sigma) with affinity-purified mAb as described above. Five to 10 mg of mAb per ml of bead is the preferred ratio. The mAb bound beads were washed with borate buffer (borate buffer: 100 mM sodium tetraborate, 154 mM NaCl, pH 8.2) until the washes show A280 at based line. Dimethyl pimelimidate (20 mM) in 200 mM triethanolamine was added to covalently crosslink the bound mAb to the protein-A-Sepharose (Schneider, et al J. Biol. Chem. 257:10766 (1982). After incubation for 45 minutes at room temperature on a rotator, the excess crosslinking reagent was removed by washing the beads twice with 10-20 ml of 20 mM ethanolamine, pH 8.2. Between each one the slurry was placed on a rotator for 5 minutes at room temperature. The beads were washed with borate buffer and with PBS plus 0.02% sodium azide.
  • The cell lysate (5-10×109 cell equivalents) was then slowly passed over a 5-10 ml affinity column (flow rate of 0.1-0.25 ml per minute) to allow the binding of the antigen to the immobilized antibody. After the lysate was allowed to pass through the column, the column was washed sequentially with 20 column volumes of detergent stock solution plus 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 20 column volumes of 0.5 M NaCl, 20 mM Tris, pH 8.0, and 10 column volumes of 20 mM Tris, pH 8.0. The HLA antigen bound to the mAb was eluted with a basic buffer solution (50 mM diethylamine in water). As an alternative, acid solutions such as 0.15-0.25 M acetic acid were also used to elute the bound antigen. An aliquot of the eluate (1/50) was removed for protein quantification using either a colorimetric assay (BCA assay, Pierce) or by SDS-PAGE, or both. SDS-PAGE analysis was performed as described by Laemmli (Laemmli, U.K., Nature 227:680 (1970)) using known amounts of bovine serum albumin (Sigma) as a protein standard.
  • Allele specific antibodies were used to purify the specific MHC molecule. In the case of HLA-A2 and HLA-A3 mAbs BB7:2 and GAPA3 were used respectively. An example of SDS PAGE analysis of purified HLA-A3.2 molecules is shown in FIG. 15.
  • FIG. 15 shows SDS-PAGE (12.5%) analysis of affinity purified HLA-A3.2 from the cell line EHM. An affinity column (10 ml) was prepared with protein A-sepharose beads coupled to the monoclonal antibody GAPA3 which is specific for HLA-A3. A detergent lysate of 5×109 cells was passaged over the column and the column was washed extensively. The bound HLA-A3.2 molecules were eluted from the column with 0.15M acetic acid, 50 ml. One ml of the eluate was removed and lyophilized to concentrate the sample. The sample was taken up to 50 μl with Laemmli sample buffer and 20 μl were loaded in lane 2. Lane 1 contained molecular weight standards: Myosin, 230 kD; β-galactosidase, 116 kD; phosphorylase B, 97.4 kD; bovine serum albumin, 66.2 kD; ovalbumin, 45 kD; carbonic anhydrase, 31 kD; soybean trypsin inhibitor, 21.5 kD; and lysozyme, 14.4 kD. Standard concentrations of bovine serum albumin were run in lanes 8, 10 μg, 9, 3 μg, and 10, μg to aid in the estimation of protein yield. For this particular HLA-A3.2 preparation, the estimated yield was approximately 112 pg.
  • For HLA-A11, A24.1 and A1, an alternative protocol, was used whereby anti-HIA-B and C monoclonal antibodies were used to deplete HLA-B and C molecules. The remaining HLA-A molecules were subsequently purified using the W6/32 mAb as described below.
  • Based on the density of class I expression as indicated by the results of immunofluorescent staining analysis, it is anticipated that average yields of class I antigen isolated from the EBV B cell lines will range from 800-1200 pg per 1010 cell equivalents.
  • Example 3 An Alternative Class I Purification Protocol
  • HLA-A2.1 molecules were isolated using the mAb B1.23.2 which detects an epitope expressed by HLA-B and C allele molecules, but not by HLA-A antigens. The mAb, W6/32, detects all human class I molecules, including HLA-A, B and C. As mentioned above, these mAbs react well with the B cell lines serving as sources of HLA-A antigens. The B1.23.2 mAb reacts with the various human B cell lines, but fails to react with a mouse cell line that expresses a transfected HLA-A2.1 protein or a chimeric A2.1 mouse Kb molecule. It does react with the human cell line, CIR (Alexander, J., et al., Immunogenetics, 29, 380 C19893), that lacks expression of HLA-A and B molecules, but expresses low levels of. HLA-C molecules. This pattern of reactivity illustrates how the 81.23.2 mAb can be used to deplete the B cell lysates of HLA-B and C molecules.
  • Affinity columns were prepared using the affinity-purified B1.23.2 and W6/32 mAbs, respectively, as described above. The procedures for the preparation of the affinity columns are essentially identical to the procedures described for the preparation of the allele-specif is mAb columns described above. The B1.23.2 mAb affinity column was used to deplete the detergent lysates of HLA-B and C molecules using the protocol as described above. The cell lysate depleted of HLA-B and C was then passed over a W6/32 mAb affinity column. The MHC molecule that was eluted from this second passage was the A allele product.
  • This alternative affinity purification is useful for the purification of any HLA-A allele product, and does not rely on the need for allele-specific mAbs. In addition, it could also be used to isolate any class I molecule type from transfected cell lines.
  • Example 4 MHC Purification
  • The EBV transformed cell lines JY (A*0201), M7B (A*0202), FUN (A*0203), DAH (A*0205), CLA (A*0206), KNE (A*0207), AP (A*0207), and AMAI (A*6802) were used as the primary source of MHC molecules. Single MHC allele transfected 721.221 lines were also used as sources of A*0202 and A*0207. Cells were maintained in vitro by culture in RPMI 1640 medium (Flow Laboratories, McLean, Va.), supplemented with 2 mM L-glutamine (GIBCO, Grand Island, N.Y.), 100 U (100 μg/ml) penicillin-streptomycin solution (GIBCO), and 10% heat-inactivated FCS (Hazelton Biologics). Large scale cultures were maintained in roller bottles.
  • HLA molecules were purified from cell lysates (Sidney, J., et al., “The Measurement of MHC/Peptide Interactions by Gel Infiltration,” Curr Prot Immunol 18.3.1-18.3.19 (1998)). Briefly, cells were lysed at a concentration of 108 cells/ml in 50 mM Tris-HCL, pH 8.5, containing 1% (v/v) NP-40 150 mM NaCl, 5 mM EDTA, and 2 mM PMSF. Lysates were then passed through 0.45 μM filters, cleared of nuclei and debris by centrifugation at 10,000×g for 20 minutes and MHC molecules purified by monoclonal antibody-based affinity chromatography.
  • For affinity purification, columns of inactivated Sepharose CL4B and Protein A Sepharose were used as pre-columns. Class I molecules were captured by repeated passage over Protein A Sepharose beads conjugated with the anti-HLA (A, B, C) antibody W6/32 (Sidney, J., et al., supra). HLA-A molecules were further purified from HLA-B and -C molecules by passage over a B1.23.2 column. After 2 to 4 passages the W6/32 column was washed with 10-column volumes of 10 mM Tris-HCL, pH 8.0 with 1% (v/v) NP-40, 2-column volumes of PBS, and 2-column volumes of PBS containing 0.4% (w/v) n-octylglucoside. Class I molecules were eluted with 50 mM dimethylamine in 0.15 M NaCl containing 0.4% (w/v) n-octylglucoside, pH 11.5.A 1/26 volume of 2.0 M Tris, pH 6.8, was added to the eluate to reduce the pH to ˜8.0. The eluate was then concentrated by centrifugation in Centriprep 30 concentrators at 2000 rpm (Amicon, Beverly, Mass.). Protein purity, concentration, and effectiveness of depletion steps were monitored by SDS-PAGE and BCA assay.
  • Example 5 Isolation and Sequencing of Naturally Processed Peptides
  • For the HLA-A preparations derived from the base (50 mM diethylamine) elution protocol, the eluate was immediately neutralized with 1 N acetic acid to pH 7.0-7.5. The neutralized eluate was concentrated to a volume of 1-2 ml in an Amicon stirred cell [Model 8050, with YM3 membranes (Amicon)]. Ten ml of ammonium acetate (0.01 M, pH 8.0) was added to the concentrator to remove the non-volatile salts, and the sample was concentrated to approximately 1 ml. A small sample (1/50) was removed for protein quantitation as described above. The remainder was recovered into a 15 ml polypropylene conical centrifuge tube (Falcon, 2097) (Becton Dickinson). Glacial acetic acid was added to obtain a final concentration of 10% acetic acid. The acidified sample was placed in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes to allow for the dissociation of the bound peptides. The sample was cooled on ice, returned to the concentrator and the filtrate was collected. Additional aliquots of 10% acetic acid (1-2 ml) were added to the concentrator, and this filtrate was pooled with the original filtrate. Finally, 1-2 ml of distilled water was added to the concentrator, and this filtrate was pooled as well.
  • The retentate contains the bulk of the HLA-A heavy chain and â2-microglobulin, while the filtrate contains the naturally processed bound peptides and other components with molecular weights less than about 3000. The pooled filtrate material was lyophilized in order to concentrate the peptide fraction. The sample was then ready for further analysis.
  • For HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) separation of the peptide fractions, the lyophilized sample was dissolved in 50 μl of distilled water, or into 0.1% trifluoracetic acid (TFA) (Applied Biosystems) in water and injected to a C18 reverse-phase narrow bore column (Beckman C18 Ultrasphere, 10×250 mm), using a gradient system described by Stone and Williams (Stone, K. L. and Williams K. R., in, Macromolecular Sequencing and Synthesis; Selected Methods and Applications, A. R. Liss, New York, 1988, pp. 7-24. Buffer A was 0.06% TFA in water (Burdick-Jackson) and buffer B was 0.052% TFA in 80% acetonitrile (Burdick-Jackson). The flow rate was 0.250 ml/minute with the following gradient: 0-60 min., 2-37.5% B; 60-95 min., 37.5-75% B; 95-105 min., 75-98% B. The Gilson narrow bore HPLC configuration is particularly useful for this purpose, although other configurations work equally well.
  • A large number of peaks were detected by absorbance at 214 nm, many of which appear to be of low abundance. Whether a given peak represents a single peptide or a peptide mixture was not determined. Pooled fractions were then sequenced to determine motifs specific for each allele as described below.
  • Pooled peptide fractions, prepared as described above were analyzed by automated Edman sequencing using the Applied Biosystems Model 477A automated sequencer. The sequencing method is based on the technique developed by Pehr Edman in the 1950s for the sequential degradation of proteins and peptides to determine the sequence of the constituent amino acids.
  • The protein or peptide to be sequenced was held by a 12-mm diameter porous glass fiber filter disk in a heated, argon-purged reaction chamber. The filter was generally pre-treated with BioBrene Plus™ and then cycled through one or more repetitions of the Edman reaction to reduce contaminants and improve the efficiency of subsequent sample sequencing. Following the pre-treatment of the filter, a solution of the sample protein or peptide (10 pmol-5 nmol range) was loaded onto the glass filter and dried. Thus, the sample was left embedded in the film of the pre-treated disk. Covalent attachment of the sample to the filter was usually not necessary because the Edman chemistry utilized relatively apolar solvents, in which proteins and peptides are poorly soluble.
  • Briefly, the Edman degradation reaction has three steps: coupling, cleavage, and conversion. In coupling step, phenylisothiocyanate (PITC) is added. The PITC reacts quantitatively with the free amino-terminal amino acid of the protein to form the phenylthiocarbamyl-protein in a basic environment. After a period of time for the coupling step, the excess chemicals are extracted and the highly volatile organic acid, trifluoroacetic acid, TFA, is used to cleave the PITC-coupled amino acid residue from the amino terminus of the protein yielding the anilinothiazolinone (A-TZ) derivative of the amino acid. The remaining protein/peptide is left with a new amino terminus and is ready for the next Edman cycle. The ATZ amino acid is extracted and transferred to a conversion flask, where upon addition of 25% TFA in water, the ATZ amino acid is converted to the more stable phenylthiohydantoin (PTH) amino acid that can be identified and quantified following automatic injection into the Model 120 PTH Analyzer which uses a microbore C-18 reverse-phase HPLC column for the analysis.
  • In the present procedures, peptide mixtures were loaded onto the glass filters. Thus, a single amino acid sequence usually does not result. Rather, mixtures of amino acids in different yield are found. When the particular residue is conserved among the peptides being sequenced, increased yield for that amino acid is observed.
  • Example 6 MHC-Peptide Binding Assays
  • Quantitative assays to measure the binding of peptides to soluble Class I molecules are based on the inhibition of binding of a radiolabeled standard peptide. These assays were performed as previously described (Sidney, J., et al., supra.). Briefly, 1-10 nM of radiolabeled peptide was co-incubated at room temperature with 1 μM to 1 nM of purified MHC in the presence of 1 μM human β2-microglubulin (Scripps Laboratories, San Diego, Calif.) and a cocktail of protease inhibitors. Following a two day incubation, the percent of MHC bound radioactivity was determined by size exclusion gel filtration chromatography using a TSK 2000 column. Alternatively, the percent of MHC bound radioactivity was determined by capturing MHC/peptide complexes on W6/32 antibody coated plates, and determining bound cpm using the TopCount microscintillation counter (Packard Instrument Co., Meriden, Conn.) (Southwood, et al., Epimmune Technical Report Epi 063-99).
  • The radio labeled standard peptide utilized for the A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0205, A*0206, and A*0207 assays was an F6>Y analog of the HBV core 18-27 epitope (sequence FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______)). The average IC50 of this peptide for each molecule was 5.0, 4.3, 10, 4.3, 3.7, and 23 nM, respectively. A C4>A analog of HBV pol 646 (sequence FTQAGYPAL (SEQ ID NO:______)), or MAGE 1 282 (sequence YVIKVSARV (SEQ ID NO:______)), was utilized as the label for the A*6802 assay. Their IC50s for A*6802 were 40 and 8 nM, respectively.
  • In the case of competitive assays, the concentration of peptide yielding 50% inhibition of the binding of the radiolabeled peptide was calculated. Peptides were initially tested at one or two high doses. The IC50 of peptides yielding positive inhibition were then determined in subsequent experiments, in which two to six further dilutions were tested. Under the conditions utilized, where [label]<[MHC] and IC50≧[MHC], the measured IC50 values are reasonable approximations of the true Kd values. Each competitor peptide was tested in two to four independent experiments. As a positive control, the unlabeled version of the radiolabeled probe was also tested in each experiment.
  • Example 7 Alternative Binding Assay
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed homozygous cell lines, fibroblasts, CIR, or 721.22 transfectants were used as sources of HLA class I molecules. These cells were maintained in vitro by culture in RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with 2 mM L-glutamine (GIBCO, Grand Island, N.Y.), 50 μM 2-ME, 100 μg/ml of streptomycin, 100 U/ml of penicillin (Irvine Scientific) and 10% heat-inactivated FCS (Irvine Scientific, Santa Ana, Calif.). Cells were grown in 225-cm2 tissue culture flasks or, for large-scale cultures, in roller bottle apparatuses. Cells were harvested by centrifugation at 1500 RPM using an IEC-CRU5000 centrifuge with a 259 rotor and washed three times with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (0.01 M PO4, 0.154 M NaCl, pH 7.2).
  • Cells were pelleted and stored at −70° C. or treated with detergent lysing solution to prepare detergent lysates. Cell lysates were prepared by the addition of stock detergent solution [1% NP-40 (Sigma) or Renex 30 (Accurate Chem. Sci. Corp., Westbury, N.Y. 11590), 150 mM NaCl, 50 mM Tris, pH 8.0] to the cell pellets (previously counted) at a ratio of 50-100×106 cells per ml detergent solution. A cocktail of protease inhibitors was added to the premeasured volume of stock detergent solution immediately prior to the addition to the cell pellet. Addition of the protease inhibitor cocktail produced final concentrations of the following: phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF), 2 mM; aprotinin, 5 μg/ml; leupeptin, 10 μg/ml; pepstatin, 10 μg/ml; iodoacetamide, 100 μM; and EDTA, 3 ng/ml. Cell lysis was allowed to proceed at 4° C. for 1 hour with periodic mixing. Routinely 5-10×109 cells were lysed in 50-100 ml of detergent solution. The lysate was clarified by centrifugation at 15,000×g for 30 minutes at 4° C. and subsequent passage of the supernatant fraction through a 0.2μ filter unit (Nalgene).
  • The HLA-A antigen purification was achieved using affinity columns prepared with mAb-conjugated Sepharose beads. For antibody production, cells were grown in RPMI with 10% FBS in large tissue culture flasks (Corning 25160-225). Antibodies were purified from clarified tissue culture medium by ammonium sulfate fractionation followed by affinity chromatography on protein-A-Sepharose (Sigma). Briefly, saturated ammonium sulfate was added slowly with stirring to the tissue culture supernatant to 45% (volume to volume) overnight at 4° C. to precipitate the immunoglobulins. The precipitated proteins were harvested by centrifugation at 10,000×g for 30 minutes. The precipitate was then dissolved in a minimum volume of PBS and transferred to dialysis tubing (Spectro/Por 2, Mol. wt. cutoff 12,000-14,000, Spectrum Medical Ind.). Dialysis was against PBS (≧20 times the protein solution volume) with 4-6 changes of dialysis buffer over a 24-48 hour period at 4° C. The dialyzed protein solution was clarified by centrifugation (10,000×g for 30 minutes) and the pH of the solution adjusted to pH 8.0 with 1N NaOH. Protein-A-Sepharose (Sigma) was hydrated according to the manufacturer's instructions, and a protein-A-Sepharose column was prepared. A column of 10 ml bed volume typically binds 50-100 mg of mouse IgG.
  • The protein sample was loaded onto the protein-A-Sepharose column using a peristaltic pump for large loading volumes or by gravity for smaller volumes (<100 ml). The column was washed with several volumes of PBS, and the eluate was monitored at A280 in a spectrophotometer until base line was reached. The bound antibody was eluted using 0.1 M citric acid at suitable pH (adjusted to the appropriate pH with 1N NaOH). For mouse IgG-1 pH 6.5 was used for IgG2a pH 4.5 was used and for IgG2b and IgG3 pH 3.0 was used. 2 M Tris base was used to neutralize the eluate. Fractions containing the antibody (monitored by A280) were pooled, dialyzed against PBS and further concentrated using an Amicon Stirred Cell system (Amicon Model 8050 with YM30 membrane). The anti-A2 mAb, BB7.2, was useful for affinity purification.
  • The HLA-A antigen was purified using affinity columns prepared with mAb-conjugated Sepharose beads. The affinity columns were prepared by incubating protein-A-Sepharose beads (Sigma) with affinity-purified mAb as described above. Five to 10 mg of mAb per ml of bead is the preferred ratio. The mAb bound beads were washed with borate buffer (borate buffer: 100 mM sodium tetraborate, 154 mM NaCl, pH 8.2) until the washes show A280 at based line. Dimethyl pimelimidate (20 mM) in 200 mM triethanolamine was added to covalently crosslink the bound mAb to the protein-A-Sepharose (Schneider, et al., J. Biol. Chem. 257:10766 (1982). After incubation for 45 minutes at room temperature on a rotator, the excess crosslinking reagent was removed by washing the beads twice with 10-20 ml of 20 mM ethanolamine, pH 8.2. Between each one the slurry was placed on a rotator for 5 minutes at room temperature. The beads were washed with borate buffer and with PBS plus 0.02% sodium azide.
  • The cell lysate (5-10×109 cell equivalents) was then slowly passed over a 5-10 ml affinity column (flow rate of 0.1-0.25 ml per minute) to allow the binding of the antigen to the immobilized antibody. After the lysate was allowed to pass through the column, the column was washed sequentially with 20 column volumes of detergent stock solution plus 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 20 column volumes of 0.5 M NaCl, 20 mM Tris, pH 8.0, and 10 column volumes of 20 mM Tris, pH 8.0. The HLA-A antigen bound to the mAb was eluted with a basic buffer solution (50 mM dimethylamine in water). As an alternative, acid solutions such as 0.15-0.25 M acetic acid were also used to elute the bound antigen. An aliquot of the eluate (1/50) was removed for protein quantification using either a colorimetric assay (BCA assay, Pierce) or by SDS-PAGE, or both. SDS-PAGE analysis was performed as described by Laemmli (Laemmli, U.K., Nature 227:680 (1970)) using known amounts of bovine serum albumin (Sigma) as a protein standard. Allele specific antibodies were used to purify the specific MHC molecule. In the case of HLA-A2, the mAb BB7.2 was used.
  • A detailed description of the protocol utilized to measure the binding of peptides to Class I HLA molecules has been published (Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813, 1994; Sidney, et al., in Current Protocols in Immunology, Margulies, Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York, Section 18.3, 1998). Briefly, purified MHC molecules (5 to 500 nM) were incubated with various unlabeled peptide inhibitors and 1-10 nM 125I-radiolabeled probe peptides for 48 h in PBS containing 0.05% Nonidet P-40 (NP40) (or 20% w/v digitonin for H-2 IA assays) in the presence of a protease inhibitor cocktail. The final concentrations of protease inhibitors (each from CalBioChem, La Jolla, Calif.) were 1 mM PMSF, 1.3 nM 1.10 phenanthroline, 73 μM pepstatin A, 8 mM EDTA, 6 mM N-ethylmaleimide, and 200 μM N alpha-p-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethyl ketone (TLCK). All assays were performed at pH 7.0.
  • Following incubation, MHC-peptide complexes were separated from free peptide by gel filtration on 7.8 mm×15 cm TSK200 columns (TosoHaas 16215, Montgomeryville, Pa.), eluted at 1.2 mls/min with PBS pH 6.5 containing 0.5% NP40 and 0.1% NaN3. The eluate from the TSK columns was passed through a Beckman 170 radioisotope detector, and radioactivity was plotted and integrated using a Hewlett-Packard 3396A integrator, and the fraction of peptide bound was determined.
  • Radiolabeled peptides were iodinated using the chloramine-T method. A specific radiolabeled probe peptide was utilized in each assay. Typically, in preliminary experiments, each MHC preparation was titered in the presence of fixed amounts of radiolabeled peptides to determine the concentration of HLA molecules necessary to bind 10-20% of the total radioactivity. All subsequent inhibition and direct binding assays were performed using these HLA concentrations.
  • Since under these conditions [label]<[HLA] and IC50>[HLA], the measured IC50 values are reasonable approximations of the true KD values. Peptide inhibitors are typically tested at concentrations ranging from 120 μg/ml to 1.2 ng/ml, and are tested in two to four completely independent experiments. To allow comparison of the data obtained in different experiments, a relative binding figure is calculated for each peptide by dividing the IC50 of a positive control for inhibition, i.e. the reference peptide that is included in every binding assay, by the IC50 for each tested peptide (typically unlabeled versions of the radiolabeled probe peptide). For database purposes, and inter-experiment comparisons, relative binding values are compiled. These values can subsequently be converted into normalized IC50 nM values by dividing the standard historical IC50 of the reference peptide by the relative binding of the peptide of interest. This method of data compilation has proven to be the most accurate and consistent for comparing peptides that have been tested on different days, or with different lots of purified MHC.
  • For example, the standard reference peptide (or positive control) for the HLA-A2.1 binding assays described herein is the peptide having a sequence of FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______), which has an average historical IC50 value of 5 nM in multiple, repeated binding assays. This standard value is used to normalize reported IC50 values for HLA-A2.1 binding as described herein. Thus, a relative binding value of a test HLA-A2.1 motif-bearing peptide can be converted into a normalized IC50 by dividing the standard reference IC50 value, i.e., 5 nM, by the relative binding value of the test HLA-A2.1 motif-bearing peptide.
  • Example 8 Sequence and Binding Analysis
  • Using the assay described in Example 4, a relative binding value was calculated for each peptide by dividing the IC50 of the positive control for inhibition by the IC50 for each tested peptide. These values can subsequently be converted back into IC50 nM values by dividing the IC50 nM of the positive controls for inhibition by the relative binding of the peptide of interest. This method of data compilation has proved to be accurate and consistent for comparing peptides that have been tested on different days or with different lots of purified MHC. Standardized relative binding values also allow the calculation a geometric mean, or average relative binding value (ARB), for all peptides with a particular characteristic (Ruppert, J., et al., “Prominent Role of Secondary Anchor Residues in Peptide Binding to HLA-A2.1 Molecules,” Cell 74:929-937 (1993); Sidney, J., et al., “Definition of an HLA-A3-Like Supermotif Demonstrates the Overlapping Peptide Binding Repertoires of Common HLA Molecules,” Hum Immunol. 45:79-93 (1996); Sidney, J., et al., “Specificity and Degeneracy in Peptide Binding to HLA-B7-Like Class I Molecules,” J. Immunol. 157:3480-3490 (1996); Kondo, A., et al., “Prominent Roles of Secondary Anchor Residues in Peptide Binding to HLA-A24 Human Class I Molecules,” J. Immunol. 155:4307-4312 (1995); Kondo, A., et al., “Two Distinct HLA-A*0101-Specific Submotifs Illustrate Alternative Peptide Binding Modes,” Immunogenetics 45:249-258 (1997); Gulukota, K., et al., “Two Complementary Methods for Predicting Peptides Binding Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecules,” J. Mol. Biol. 267:1258-1267 (1997); Southwood, S., et al., “Several Common HLA-DR Types Share Largely Overlapping Peptide Binding Repertoires,” J. Immunol 160:3363-3373 (1998)).
  • Maps of secondary interactions influencing peptide binding to HLA-A2 supertype molecules based on ARB were derived as previously described (Ruppert, J. et al., “Prominent Role of Secondary Anchor Residues in Peptide Binding to HLA-A2.1 Molecules,” Cell 74:929-937 (1993); Sidney, J., et al., “Definition of an HLA-A3-Like Supermotif Demonstrates the Overlapping Peptide Binding Repertoires of Common HLA Molecules,” Hum Immunol. 45:79-93 (1996); Sidney, J., et al., “Specificity and Degeneracy in Peptide Binding to HLA-B7-Like Class I Molecules,” J. Immunol. 157:3480-3490 (1996); Kondo, A., et al., “Prominent Roles of Secondary Anchor Residues in Peptide Binding to HLA-A24 Human Class I Molecules,” J. Immunol. 155:4307-4312 (1995); Kondo, A., et al., “Two Distinct HLA-A*0101-Specific Submotifs Illustrate Alternative Peptide Binding Modes,” Immunogenetics 45:249-258 (1997); Gulukota, K., et al., “Two Complementary Methods for Predicting Peptides Binding Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecules,” J. Mol. Biol. 267:1258-1267 (1997)). Essentially, all peptides of a given size (8, 9, 10 or 11 amino acids) and with at least one tolerated main anchor residue were selected for analysis. The binding capacity of peptides in each size group was analyzed by determining the ARB values for peptides that contain specific amino acid residues in specific positions. For determination of the specificity at main anchor positions ARB values were standardized relative to the ARB of peptides carrying the residue associated with the best binding. For secondary anchor determinations, ARB values were standardized relative to the ARB of the whole peptide set considered. That is, for example, an ARB value was determined for all 9-mer peptides that contain A in position 1, or F in position 7, etc. Because of the rare occurrence of certain amino acids, for some analyses residues were grouped according to individual chemical similarities as previously described (Ruppert, J. et al., supra; Sidney, J., et al., supra; Sidney, J., et al., supra; Kondo, A., et al., supra; Kondo, A., et al., supra; Gulukota, K., et al., supra; Southwood, S., et al., supra).
  • Frequencies of HLA-A2-Supertype Molecules
  • To select a panel of A2-supertype molecules representative of the allelic forms most frequent in major ethnic groups, unpublished population typing data from D. Mann and M. Fernandez-Vina were utilized. These data were consistent with published data (Sudo, T., et al., “DNA Typing for HLA Class I Alleles: I. Subsets of HLA-A2 and of -A28,” Hum. Immunol. 33:163-173 (1992); Ellis, J. M., et al., “Frequencies of HLA-A2 alleles in Five US Population Groups,” Hum. Immunol. 61:334-340 (2000); Krausa, P., et al., “Genetic Polymorphism Within HLA-A*02: Significant Allelic Variation Revealed in Different Populations,” Tissue Antigens 45:233-231 (1995) and Imanishi, T., et al., “Allele and Haplotype Frequencies for HLA and Complement Loci in Various Ethnic Groups” Tsuji, K., et al., (eds): HLA 1991, Proceedings of the Eleventh International Histo-Compatibility Workshop and Conference, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 1065-1220 (1992)), and are shown in TABLE 38. For the four major ethnic groups considered, it was apparent that seven HLA alleles represent the vast majority of A2 supertype alleles. Included in this group are A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207, and A*6802. Each of these alleles is present in 2% or more of the general population, and also occur with a frequency greater than 5% in at least one major ethnicity. Other alleles are represented with only minor frequencies of 1.3%, or less, in any one major ethnic group. Furthermore, none of the minor alleles are present with a frequency greater than 1% in the general population. Based on these observations, A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207, and A*6802 were selected for studies defining peptide binding specificity and cross-reactivity in the A2-supertype.
  • Main Anchor Positions of A2 Supertype Molecules
  • Previous studies indicated a largely overlapping peptide binding specificity for a set of Class I molecules designated as the A2-supertype. Here, the main peptide binding specificity of A2-supertype molecules was examined in more detail. Some of these results have been published previously, and are shown here only for reference purposes (Ruppert, J., et al., supra and Sidney, J., et al., “The HLA-A*0207 Peptide Binding Repertoire is Limited to a Subset of the A*0201 Repetoire,” Hum. Immunol., 58:12-20 (1997)).
  • In a first series of studies, non-conservative lysine (K) substitutions were introduced at every position of two peptides previously noted to bind multiple A2-supertype molecules: 1) the HCV NS3 590 9-mer peptide (sequence YLVAYQATV (SEQ ID NO:______)), and 2) the HBV core 18 F6>Y10-mer analog peptide (sequence FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______)). These peptides were tested for their capacity to bind A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0205, A*0206, A*0207 and A*6802. In TABLE 39 and TABLE 40, binding capacities are expressed as ratios relative to the parent peptide. Peptides whose binding capacities are within 10-fold of the best binder are considered preferred; those whose relative binding capacities are 10-100-fold less than the best binder are considered tolerated. A dash (“-”) indicates a relative binding of less than 0.01. In the case of the HCV NS3 590 peptide (TABLE 39), K substitutions at position 2 and the C-terminus resulted in greater than 100-fold reduction in binding to each HLA molecule. Greater than 100-fold decreases in binding were also noted in the context of A*6802 when K was substituted in positions 1 and 5. Reductions in binding capacity in the 10-100-fold range were noted when substitutions were made at several other positions, notably positions 3 and 7. When the 10-mer HBV core 18 F6>Y ligand (TABLE 40) was investigated, greater than 100-fold reductions in binding capacity were again noted when the peptide was substituted at position 2 and the C-terminus. Significant reductions in binding were also observed following substitution at position 7.
  • Together, these data suggest that A2-supertype molecules bind both 9- and 10-mer peptide ligands via anchor residues in position 2 and at the C-terminus. The presence of an additional primary or secondary anchor towards the middle of the peptide is demonstrated by the fact that the binding of both the 9-mer and 10-mer peptides was usually reduced by substitutions at position 7. Specificity of the Position 2 and C-Terminal Anchor Residues.
  • Based on these results, the ligand specificity of A2-supertype molecules at position 2 and the C-terminus was analyzed using additional HCV NS3 590 and HBV core 18 F6>Y single substitution analogs, and also single substitution analogs of a poly-alanine peptide (peptide 953.01; sequence ALAKAAAAV (SEQ ID NO:______)). For these analyses, preferred amino acids for anchor residues were defined as those associated with a binding capacity within 10-fold of the optimal residue. Amino acids whose relative binding capacity was between 0.01 and 0.1 were defined as tolerated, and those associated with a binding capacity less than 0.01 were considered as non-tolerated. In the accompanying tables, a dash (“-”) indicates a relative binding of less than 0.01. Binding capacities are expressed as ratios relative to the related analog with the highest binding affinity for each individual molecule.
  • At position 2 small aliphatic and hydrophobic residues were found to be generally tolerated, while other residues, including large polar, aromatic, and charged residues were typically not well tolerated (TABLE 41, TABLE 42, and TABLE 43). L, I, V, and M were preferred as anchor residues in most (>80%) contexts (TABLE 44). The allele/peptide combinations in Table 44 refer to the number of instances in which a given residue was associated with a relative binding in the 1-0.1 range (preferred) or 0.1-0.01 range (tolerated). A, T, Q, and S were less frequently preferred as anchor residues, but were either preferred or tolerated in >80% of the contexts examined (TABLE 44). None of the other amino acids examined were preferred in any context and only rarely tolerated (residues, but were either preferred or tolerated in >80% of the contexts examined. None of the other amino acids examined were preferred in any context and only rarely tolerated).
  • At the C-terminus, V was found to be the optimal residue in the context of all 3 parent peptides for A*0201, A*0206, and A*6802, and in 2 out of 3 cases for A*0203 and A*0205 (TABLE 45, TABLE 46, and TABLE 47). Overall, either V or L was the optimal C-terminal residue for each molecule, regardless of the peptide tested. The allele/peptide combinations in Table 48 refer to the number of instances in which a given residue was associated with a relative binding in the 1-0.1 range (preferred) or 0.1-0.01 range (tolerated). The aliphatic/hydrophobic amino acids V, L, and I were preferred as anchor residues in greater than 66.7% of the MHC-peptide contexts. M, A, and T were tolerated approximately 50% of the time. Other residues examined were either not accepted at all, or were tolerated only rarely.
  • A Re-Evaluation of the Peptide Binding Specificity of A*0201
  • The fine specificity of A*0201 binding was investigated in more detail using a database of over 4000 peptides between 8- and 11-residues in length. It was found that over 30% of the peptides bearing L or M in position 2 bound A*0201 with affinities of 500 nM, or better (FIG. 1 a). Between 5 and 15% of the peptides bearing the aliphatic residues I, V, A, T, and Q bound with IC50s of 500 nM, or better. No other residue, including aromatic (F, W, and Y), charged (R, H, K, D, and E), polar (S and N) and small (C, G, and P) residues, was associated with IC50s of 500 nM, or better.
  • Consistent with the single substitution analysis, V was found to be the optimal A*0201 C-terminal anchor residue (FIG. 1 b). Overall, 31.9% of the peptides with V at the C-terminus were A*0201 binders. I, L, S, C, M, T and A were also tolerated, with 7.1 to 28.6% of the peptides binding with an IC50 of 500 nM, or better.
  • The correlation between peptide length (between 8 and 11 residues) and binding capacity was analyzed next. It was found that 27.6% of the 9-mer peptides bound with IC50 of 500 nM, or less, in good agreement with previous estimates (Ruppert, J., et al., supra) (TABLE 49). ARB values are standardized to the peptide set of optimal size and shown for reference purposes.
  • Longer peptides were also capable of binding, although somewhat less well; 17.8% of 10-mer, and 14.5% of the 11-mer peptides had affinities of 500 mM or better. Finally, it was noted that 8-mer peptides bound A*0201 only rarely, with 3.5% of the peptides having binding capacities better than 500 nM.
  • The A*0201 peptide binding database was further analyzed to assess the stringency of most frequently (48.7%), and with higher average relative binding capacity than other peptides in the library (TABLE 50). Peptides with one preferred residue and one tolerated residue also bound relatively frequently, in the 17.6 to 28.4% range. Finally, peptides with at least one non-tolerated residue, or with tolerated residues at both main anchor positions, bound only rarely, if at all, with frequencies of binding in the 0-7.1% range. No significant difference was detected in terms of primary anchor preferences as a function of ligand size.
  • To identify secondary anchor effects, the A*0201 binding capacity of peptides in each size group was further analyzed by determining the ARB values for peptides that contain a particular amino acid residue in a specific, but size dependent, position. The resulting ARB values, by corresponding residue/position pairs, for 8-11-mer sequences are shown in TABLE 51, TABLE 52, TABLE 53, and TABLE 54. All of the peptides in TABLE 51, TABLE 52, TABLE 53, and TABLE 54 had at least 1 preferred and 1 tolerated residue at the main anchor positions. At secondary anchor positions values corresponding to a 3-fold or greater increase in binding capacity are indicated by increased and bolded font. Negative effects, associated with a three-fold decrease in binding affinity, are identified by underlined and italicized font. Also, residues determined to be preferred or tolerated anchors are indicated by bold font. ARB values at the anchor positions were derived from the analyses described in FIG. 5. To allow use of the values shown in this table as coefficients for predictive algorithms, the values for non-tolerated anchor residues have been set to 0.001, equivalent to a 1000-fold reduction in binding capacity, to filter out non-motif peptides.
  • In TABLE 51, TABLE 52, TABLE 53, and TABLE 54, the results of the analysis of a panel of 93 8-mer peptides, 1389 9-mer peptides, 953 10-mer peptides, and 95 11-mer peptides, respectively, are based on naturally occurring sequences from various viral, bacterial, or pathogen origin. ARB values shown were calculated, for example, as described in Sidney et al., Human Immunology 62: 1200 (2001) and Sidney et al., J. Immunology 157: 3480 (1996). For 9-mer and 10-mer peptides ARB values were derived for each residue considered individually. For studies of 8-mer and 11-mer peptides (TABLE 51 and TABLE 54, respectively) ARB values were based on the grouping of chemically similar residues, as described in Ruppert et al., Cell 74: 929 (1993). The average geometric binding capacity of the 8-mer, 9-mer, 10-mer, and 11-mer panels was 14420 nM, 1581 nM, 3155 nM, and 3793 nM, respectively.
  • Summary maps are shown in FIGS. 6A-6D. In most positions, some secondary influence could be detected. The majority (55%) of the negative influences involved the presence of acidic (D and E) or basic (R, H, and K) residues. Proline (P) and large polar residues (Q, and N) were also frequently disruptive. While each particular size was associated with unique preferences, in most instances (79%) preferred residues were aromatic (F, W, or Y) or hydrophobic (L, I, V, or M). Most peptide lengths exhibited a preference for F, Y and M in position 3. Similarly, all peptide sizes shared a preference for aromatic or hydrophobic residues in the C-2 position.
  • Several distinct preference patterns were also observed for peptides of a given size. For example, 8-mer peptides did not have any preference in either position 1 or position 3 for the hydrophobic or aromatic residues preferred by 9-, 10-, and 11-mer peptides. 11-mer peptides were unique in the preference for G in multiple positions throughout the middle of the peptide.
  • Main Anchor Specificities of Other A2-Supertype Molecules
  • In the next set of analyses, the main anchor specificities of A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802, four of the most prevalent A2-supertype alleles next to A*0201, was assessed. Peptides in the A2-supertype binding database often reflect selection using an A*0201-based bias, such as the selection of only A*0201 binding peptides, or the selection of peptides scoring high in A*0201 algorithms. As a result, in most cases, peptide binding data for non-A*0201 molecules is available for only peptides with supertype preferred and tolerated residues. Despite this limitation, a database of about 400 peptides was available for study. A database of sufficient size was not available to allow analysis of A*0205 and A*0207, although an analysis of the specificity of A*0207 has been published previously (Sidney, J., et. al., supra).
  • Analyses of the position 2 specificities are summarized in FIG. 3 a-d. In general, V, T, A, I, and M were tolerated in the context of each molecule. Allele specific preferences were also noted. In the case of A*0202 Q was the most preferred residue. Other residues (L, I, V, A, T and M) were tolerated, and were roughly equivalent, with ARB in the 0.08-0.30 range. By contrast, A*0203 had a preference for L, M and Q. Residues V, A, I and T were associated with lower overall binding affinities. A third pattern was noted for A*0206, where Q, V, I, A, and T were all well tolerated with ARB values between 0.47 and 1.0, while L and M were less well tolerated. Finally, for A*6802 V and T were the optimal residues, with ARB >0.45. A was also preferred, but with a lower ARB (0.13). Significant decreases in binding were seen with I and M, which had ARB between 0.050 and 0.020. L and Q were not tolerated, with ARB <0.010.
  • At the C-terminus, I, V, L, A, M and T were tolerated by all A2-supertype molecules tested, with ARB >0.060 (FIG. 4 a-d). I and V were the two residues most preferred by each allele; V was the optimal residue for A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802. L was typically the next most preferred residue. T, A, and M were usually associated with lower ARB values.
  • In conclusion, the position 2 and C-terminal anchor residues preferred or tolerated by A*0201 were also well tolerated by other A2-supertype molecules. While each allele had a somewhat unique pattern of preferences at position 2, the patterns of preferences exhibited by each allele at the C-terminus were fairly similar.
  • Secondary Influences on Peptide Binding to A2-Supertype Molecules
  • The same library of peptide ligands was analyzed to determine the ligand size preferences of A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802. Fore each allele, ARB values are standardized to the peptide set of optimal size. We found that for each molecule 9-11 mer peptides were well tolerated, with ARB >0.36 (TABLE 55, TABLE 56, TABLE 57, and TABLE 58). For A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802, 9-mer peptides were optimal, but 10-mers were optimal in the case of A*0202. For all alleles, 8-mer peptides were much less well tolerated, with ARB in each case <0.11. 3
  • The influence of secondary anchor residues on the capacity of peptides to bind A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802 was examined next. The number of peptides available only allowed analysis of 9- and 10-mer ligands. The ARB values for 9-mer and 10-mer peptides as a function of the presence of a particular residue in a specific position are shown in TABLES 59-66, and summary maps in FIG. 9, FIG. 10, FIG. 11, and FIG. 12. As noted above, positive and negative effects are defined as associated with three-fold or greater increases or decreases in binding affinity, respectively.
  • In TABLE 59 and TABLE 60, a panel of 268 9-mer peptides and a panel of 120 10-mer peptides, respectively, were tested for binding to the A*0202 allele. In TABLE 61 and TABLE 62, a panel of 272 9-mer peptides and a panel of 122 10-mer peptides, respectively, were tested for binding to the A*0203 allele. In TABLE 63 and TABLE 64, a panel of 268 9-mer peptides and a panel of 120 10-mer peptides, respectively, were tested for binding to the A*0206 allele. In TABLE 65 and TABLE 66, a panel of 268 9-mer peptides and a panel of 120 10-mer peptides, respectively, were tested for binding to the A*6802 allele. All peptides were based on naturally occurring sequences from various viral, bacterial, or pathogen origin and had at least 1 preferred and 1 tolerated residue at the main anchor positions. ARB values are based on the grouping of chemically similar residues, generally as described in Ruppert et al., Cell 74: 929 (1993), for example. At secondary anchor positions values corresponding to a 3-fold or greater increase in binding capacity are indicated by bolded and increased font. Negative effects, associated with a three-fold decrease in binding affinity, are indicated by underlined and italicized font. Also, residues determined to be preferred or tolerated anchors are indicated by bold font. To allow use of the values shown in this table as coefficients for predictive algorithms, the values for non-tolerated anchor residues were set to 0.001, equivalent to a 1000-fold reduction in binding capacity, to filter out non-motif peptides. The average geometric binding capacity of each panel in TABLE 59, TABLE 60, TABLE 61, TABLE 62, TABLE 63, TABLE 64, TABLE 65, and TABLE 66 was 401 nM, 342 nM, 85 nM, 95 nM, 387 nM, 643 nM, 838 nM, and 1055 nM, respectively.
  • In general, deleterious effects were frequently (35%) associated with charged residues (D, E, R, H, or K). An additional 35% of the deleterious influences could be attributed to G or P. Positive influences were relatively evenly attributed to basic (R, H, K), acid (D, E), hydrophobic (F, W, Y, L, I, V, M) or small (A, P) residues.
  • While each molecule had a distinctive pattern of preferences and aversions, some common trends could be noted in the case of 10-mer peptides. For example, for all molecules Q and N were preferred in position 1, and R, H, and K were preferred in position 8. D, E, and G were uniformly deleterious for 10-mer peptides in position 3. Consensus preferences or aversions were not noted for 9-mer peptides.
  • In summary, the data in this section describe detailed motifs for 9- and 10-mer peptides binding to A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802. Each motif is characterized by specific features associated with good, or poor, binding peptides.
  • A Consensus A2-Supermotif
  • How well A*0201 binders also bound to other A2-supertype molecules was assessed next. It was found that peptides that bound A*0201 with good affinity (IC50<500 nM) frequently bound other A2-supertype molecules (TABLE 67). Between 36.1 and 73.6% of A*0201 binding peptides bound other A2-supertype molecules. Analysis of A2-supertype degeneracy as a function of A*0201 affinity also yielded interesting results. The motifs described above for A2 supertype molecules are very similar and largely overlapping. In this respect, a consensus motif can be identified that incorporates features commonly shared by the molecule-specific motifs (FIG. 9). The consensus motif specifies the presence of hydrophobic and aliphatic residues in position 2 of peptide ligands. At this position, V, L and M are preferred, while T, Q, A, and I are all tolerated. On the basis of the preference rank of each residue in the context of each A2-supertype molecule, V is the most preferred residue. At the C-terminus the consensus motif specifies the presence of hydrophobic and aliphatic residues L, I, V, M, A, and T. V is most frequently the optimal residue, while L and I are also considered preferred, typically being the next most optimal residues. M, A, and T are considered as tolerated residues.
  • The secondary anchor maps for A*0201, A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802 were utilized to derive a supertype consensus secondary anchor motif for 9- and 10-mer peptides (FIG. 9). Residues considered as preferred for 3 or more A2-supertype molecules, without being deleterious for any molecule, were considered as preferred for the supertype consensus motif. Conversely, residues identified as deleterious for 3 or more molecules were designated as deleterious in the consensus motif. The consensus motif overlaps significantly with the detailed A*0201 motif, and includes a preference for aromatic residues in position 1 and/or 3, and a shared aversion for charged residues in position 3.
  • Correlation Between A*0201 Binding Affinity and A2-Supertype Cross-Reactivity
  • Because of the dominance in four major ethnicities of A*0201 compared with other A2 supertype alleles (see, e.g., TABLE 38), it was of interest to determine how well A*0201 binders also bound to other A2-supertype molecules. It was found that peptides that bound A*0201 with good affinity (IC50<500 nM) frequently bound other A2-supertype molecules (TABLE 67). Between 36.1 and 73.6% of A*0201 binding peptides bound other A2-supertype molecules. Analysis of A2-supertype degeneracy as a function of A*0201 affinity also yielded interesting results. 72.8% of the peptides that bound A*0201 with IC50<500 nM bound 3 or more A2-supertype molecules (TABLE 68). As a general rule, the higher the binding affinity of a peptide for A*0201, the higher the likelihood that the peptide would also bind 3 or more supertype molecules. Over 96% of the peptides that bound A*0201 with affinities of 20 nM or better also bound 3 or more A2-supertype molecules. By contrast, A2-supermotif peptides that did not bind A*0201 with affinities better than 500 nM only rarely (10%) bound 3 or more A2 supermotif molecules, and never bound 4 or more molecules.
  • In summary, this analysis of the cross-reactive binding of peptides to A*0201 and other A2-supertype molecules confirms the fact that this family of HLA molecules recognizes similar structural features in their peptide ligands. It has also been shown that A*0201 binding affinity correlates with the propensity to bind multiple A2-supertype alleles.
  • Analysis.
  • The results of this analysis allow for the detailed definition of the properties of peptides that bind to HLA-A*0201 and other A2-supertype molecules. The A2-supertype molecules share not only largely overlapping peptide binding specificity, but also significantly overlapping peptide binding repertoires. Specific features of peptide ligands associated with degenerate A2-supertype binding capacity were identified which provide a logical explanation for the supertype relationship.
  • In a previous study the peptide binding specificity of A*0201 was analyzed, and a detailed motif, including the identification of secondary anchor features, was constructed. In the present analyses, performed with a 10-fold larger database, we confirmed that data and extended the analysis to include 8- and 11-mer peptides. Overall, the specificity of A*0201 for 8- and 11-mer peptides was largely similar to that for 9- and 10-mer peptides. For example, regardless of peptide size, the majority of negative influences on binding capacity were associated with the presence of charged residues in secondary anchor positions, while the majority of positive influences were associated with the presence of hydrophobic residues. The definition of detailed motifs for 8- and 11-mer peptides should allow for a more complete identification of epitopes. Identification of A*0201 binders has been greatly facilitated by the use of the algorithms based on ARB values. In the present analyses a substantially larger database was used than previously available, allowing for a refinement of algorithm coefficients. Because the newer coefficients are based on a significantly larger data set, they are statistically more accurate and should afford more efficient and precise prediction of epitopes. Indeed, recent analysis has shown that a revised A*0201 9-mer polynomial algorithm based on a larger data set is more accurate than both an older algorithm based on a small data set, and neural network prediction methodologies. In addition to increasing the accuracy of epitope prediction (Ruppert, J., et al., supra; Sidney, J., et al., supra; Kondo, A., et al., supra; Gulukota, K., et al., supra; Parker, K. C., et al., “Sequence Motifs Important for Peptide Binding to the Human MHC Class I Molecule, HLA-A2,” J. Immunol. 149:3580-3587 (1992) and Milik, M., et al., “Application of an Artificial Neural Network to Predict Specific Class I MHC Binding Peptide Sequences,” Nature (Biotech) 16:753-756 (1998)), detailed peptide binding motifs defining both primary and secondary anchor positions allow for the rational design of optimized ligands. For example, natural sequences carrying sub-optimal residues at primary and/or secondary positions can be identified. The sub-optimal residues may be replaced with optimal anchors, generating epitopes with increased binding affinity (Sidney, J., et al., supra; Pogue, R. R., et al., “Amino-Terminal Alteration of the HLA-A*0201-Restricted Human Immunodeficiency Virus Pol Peptide Increases Complex Stability and in Vitro Immunogenicity,” Proc. Nat'l. Acad. Sci., USA, 92:8166-8170 (1995) and Bakker, A. B., et al., “Analogues of CTL epitopes With Improved MHC Class-I Binding Capacity Elicit Anti-Melanoma CTL Recognizing the Wide-Type Epitope,” Int. J. Cancer, 70:302-309 (1997)). Following this type of modification, wild type peptides that were unable to elicit responses, or were poor immunogens, may become highly immunogenic Pogue, R. R., et al., supra; Bakker, A. B., et al., supra; Parkhurst, M. R., “Improved Induction of Melanoma-Reactive CTL With Peptides From the Melanoma Antigen gp100 Modified at HLA-A*0201-Binding Peptides,” J. Immunol. 157:2539-2548 (1996); Rosenberg, S. A., et al., “Immunologic and Therapeutic Evaluation of a Synthetic Peptide Vaccine for the Treatment of Patients With Metastatic Melanoma,” Nature (Med) 4:321-327 (1998); Sarobe, P., et al., “Enhanced in vitro Potency and in vivo Immunogenicity of a CTL Epitope From Hepatitis C Virus Core Protein Following Amino Acid Replacement at Secondary HLA-A2.1 binding positions,” J. Clin. Invest. 102:1239-1248 (1998) and Ahlers, J. D., et al., “Enhanced Immunogenicity of HIV-1 Vaccine Construct by Modification of the Native Peptide Sequence,” Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci., USA, 94:10856-10861 (1997)). The CTL induced by such analog peptides have been shown to be capable, in most instances, of recognizing target cells expressing wild type antigen sequences. This phenomenon is likely to reflect less stringent epitope binding requirements for target cell recognition compared to that needed for stimulation of naïve T-cells to induce differentiation into effectors (Cho, B. K., et al., “Functional Differences Between Memory and Naive CD8 T Cells,” Proc. Nat'l. Acad. Sci. USA 96:2976-2981 (1999); Sykulev, Y., et al., “Evidence That A Single Peptide—MHC Complex On A Target Cell Can Elicit Acytolytic T Cell Response,” Immunity 4:565-571 (1996)). Thus, the detailed motifs described herein will facilitate not only in the identification of naturally occurring CTL epitopes, but also in the design of engineered epitopes with increased binding capacity and/or immunogenic characteristics.
  • The peptide binding specificity for other A2-supertype molecules was also investigated using single substitution analog peptides and peptide libraries. In agreement with previous reports (del Guercio, M-F, et al., “Binding of a Peptide Antigen to Multiple HLA Alleles Allows Definition of an A2-Like Supertype,” J. Immunol. 154:685-693 (1995) and (Sidney, J., et al., “Practical, Biochemical and Evolutionary Implications of the Discovery of HLA Class I Supermotifs,” Immunol Today 17:261-266 (1996)); see also reports filed for NIH-NIAID contract NO1-AI-45241), we found that the primary anchor motifs of A2-supertype molecules were remarkably similar. The use of peptide libraries allowed detailed characterization of the secondary anchor preferences and aversions of each molecule. It was shown that, while each A2-supertype molecule had a unique specificity, a supermotif based on consensus patterns could be identified. Because the supermotif describes features of peptide ligands that are shared amongst A2-supertype molecules, it is expected to allow the efficient identification of highly cross-reactive peptides, and indicate appropriate strategies for anchor fixing, allowing modulation of the supertype degeneracy of peptide ligands. A further result of the present analysis was the derivation of coefficients that could be utilized in algorithms for predicting peptide binding to A*0202, A*0203, A*0206, and A*6802.
  • As HLA A*0201 is by far the most prevalent A2-supertype allele, both in the general population and within major ethnic groups, the peptide screening strategy that was utilized focused first on the identification of A*0201 binders. It was determined that over 70% of the peptides that bind to A*0201 also bind to at least 2 additional A2-supertype molecules, and that the propensity to bind other A2-supertype alleles correlated with A*0201 binding affinity.
  • In conclusion, the data described herein provide formal demonstration of the shared peptide binding specificity of a group of HLA-A molecules designated as the A2-supertype. Not only do these molecules recognize similar features at primary and secondary anchor positions of their peptide ligands, they also share largely overlapping peptide binding repertoires. The demonstration that these molecules share largely overlapping repertoires has a significant implication for the design of potential vaccine constructs. Indeed, the concept that A2-supertype cross-reactivity at the peptide binding level may be of immunological relevance has been demonstrated in a number of studies, in both infectious disease (Khanna R., et al., “Identification of Cytotoxic T-Cell Epitopes Within Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Oncogene Latent Membrane Protein 1 (LMP1): Evidence for HLA A2 Supertype-Restricted Immune Recognition of EBV-Infected Cells by LMP 1-Specific Cytotoxic T lymphocytes,” Eur J Immunol, 28:451-458 (1998); Bertoletti, A., et al., “Molecular Features of the Hepatitis B Virus Nucleocapsid T-Cell Epitope 18-27: Interaction With HLA An T-Cell Receptor,” Hepatology 26:1027-1034 (1997); Livingston, B. D., et al., “Immunization With the HBV Core 18-27 Epitope Elicits CTL Responses in Humans Expressing Different HLA-A2 Supertype Molecules,” Hum Immunol 60:1013-1017, (1999); Bertoni, R., et al., “Human Histocompatibility Leukocyte Antigen-Binding Supermotifs Predict Broadly Cross-Reactive Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Responses in Patients With Acute Hepatitis,” J Clin Invest 100:503-513 (1997); and Doolan, D. L., et al., “Degenerate Cytotoxic T-Cell Epitopes from P. falciparum Restricted by Multiple HLA-A and HLA-B Supertype Alleles,” Immunity 7:97-112 (1997)) and cancer (Fleischhauer, K., et al., “Multiple HLA-A Alleles Can Present an Immunodominant Peptide of the Human Melanoma Antigen Melan-A/MART-1 To A Peptide-Specific HLA-A*0201+Cytotoxic Cell Line,” J Immunol, 157: 787-797 (1996); Rivoltini, L., et al., “Binding and Presentation of Peptides Derived From Melanoma Antigens MART-1 and Glycoprotein-100 by HLA-A2 Subtypes: Implications for Peptide-Based Immunotherapy,” J Immunol 156:3882-3891 (1996); Kawashima, I., “The Multi-Epitope Approach for Immunotherapy for Cancer: Identification of Several CTL Epitopes from Various Tumor-Associated Antigens Expressed on Solid Epithelial Tumors,” Hum Immunol 59:1-14 (1998)) settings.
  • Example 9 Peptide Composition for Prophylactic Uses
  • Vaccine compositions of the present invention are used to prevent infection or treat cancer in persons. For example, a polyepitopic peptide epitope composition containing multiple CTL and HTL epitopes is administered to individuals at risk for HCV infection. The composition is provided as a single lipidated polypeptide that encompasses multiple epitopes. The vaccine is administered in an aqueous carrier comprised of Freund's Incomplete Adjuvant. The dose of peptide for the initial immunization is from about 1 to about 50,000 μg for a 70 kg patient administered in a human dose volume. The initial administration of vaccine is followed by booster dosages at 4 weeks followed by evaluation of the magnitude of the immune response in the patient, by techniques that determine the presence of epitope-specific CTL populations in a PBMC sample. Additional booster doses are administered as required. The composition is found to be both safe and efficacious as a prophylaxis against HCV infection.
  • Alternatively, the polyepitopic peptide composition can be administered as a nucleic acid in accordance with methodologies known in the art and disclosed herein.
  • Example 10 Definition of an A3.2 Specific Motif
  • There is some ambiguity in the international nomenclature of A3 alleles. The A3.2 allele herein is expressed by cell lines EHM, H0301, and GM3107. This particular subtype is currently referred to as the 3.2 allele (Yang, in Immunobiology of HLA, Vol. 1, Dupont ed., Springer-Verlag, New York pp. 43-44 and 54-55, 1989), or the product of the A*0301 gene (its sequence corresponds to the one published by Strachan, et al., EMBO J., 3:887 (1984), and has been verified by direct cloning and sequencing of the A3 gene found in EHM cell line. The HLA-A3.2 encoded by the A*0301 gene referred to in this document is the commonly expressed HLA-A3 allelic form.
  • In one case using MAT cells, pooled peptide fractions prepared as described in Example 3 above were obtained from HLA-A3.2 homozygous cell lines, for example, CM3107. The pooled fractions were HPLC fractions corresponding to 7% to 19% CH3CN. For this class I molecule, this region of the chromatogram was most abundant in peptides. Data from independent experiments were averaged as described below.
  • The amino acid sequence analyses from four independent experiments were analyzed and the results are shown in TABLE 73. For each position except the first, the data were analyzed by modifying the method described by Falk et al. to allow for comparison of experiments from different HLA types. This modified procedure yielded quantitative yet standardized values while allowing the averaging of data from different experiments involving the same HLA type.
  • The raw sequenator data was converted to a simple matrix of 10 rows (each representing one Edman degradation cycle) and 16 columns (each representing one of the twenty amino acids; W, C, R and H were eliminated for technical reasons. The data corresponding to the first row (first cycle) was not considered further because, this cycle is usually heavily contaminated by free amino acids). The values of each row were summed to yield a total pmoles value for that particular cycle. For each row, values for each amino acid were then divided by the corresponding total yield value, to determine what fraction of the total signal is attributable to each amino acid at each cycle. By doing so, an “Absolute Frequency” table was generated. This absolute frequency table allows correction for the declining yields of each cycle.
  • The retentate contains the bulk of the HLA-A heavy chain and 132-microglobulin, while the filtrate contains the naturally processed bound peptides and other components with molecular weights less than about 3000. The pooled filtrate material was lyophilized in order to concentrate the peptide fraction. The sample was then ready for further analysis.
  • For HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) separation of the peptide fractions, the lyophilized sample was dissolved in 50 μl of distilled water, or into 0.1% trifluoracetic acid (TFA) (Applied Biosystems) in water and injected into a C18 reverse-phase narrow bore column (Beckman C18 Ultrasphere, 10×250 mm), using a gradient system described by Stone and Williams (Stone, K. L. and Williams K. R., in, Macromolecular Sequencing and Synthesis; Selected Methods and Applications, A. R. Liss, New York, 1988, pp. 7-24). Buffer A was 0.06% TFA in water (Burdick-Jackson) and buffer B was 0.052% TFA in 80% acetonitrile (Burdick-Jackson). The flow rate was 0.250 ml/minute with the following gradient: 0-60 min., 2-37.5% B; 60-95 min., 37.5-75% B; 95-105 min., 75-98% B. The Gilson narrow bore HPLC configuration is particularly useful for this purpose, although other configurations work equally well.
  • A large number of peaks were detected by absorbance at 214 nm, many of which appear to be of low abundance (FIG. 16). Whether a given peak represents a single peptide or a peptide mixture was not determined. Pooled fractions were then sequenced to determine motifs specific for each allele as described below.
  • Pooled peptide fractions, prepared as described above were analyzed by automated Edman sequencing using the Applied Biosystems Model 477A automated sequencer. The sequencing method is based on the technique developed by Pehr Edman in the 1950s for the sequential degradation of proteins and peptides to determine the sequence of the constituent amino acids.
  • The protein or peptide to be sequenced was held by a 12-mm diameter porous glass fiber filter disk in a heated, argon-purged reaction chamber. The filter was generally pre-treated with BioBrene Plus™ and then cycled through one or more repetitions of the Edman reaction to reduce contaminants and improve the efficiency of subsequent sample sequencing. Following the pretreatment of the filter, a solution of the sample protein or peptide (10 pmol-5 nmol range) was loaded onto the glass filter and dried. Thus, the sample was left embedded in the film of the pretreated disk. Covalent attachment of the sample to the filter was usually not necessary because the Edman chemistry utilized relatively apolar solvents, in which proteins and peptides are poorly soluble.
  • Starting from the absolute frequency table, a “relative frequency” table was then generated to allow comparisons among different amino acids. To do so the data from each column was summed, and then averaged. Then, each value was divided next by the average column value to obtain relative frequency values. These values quantitate, in a standardized manner, increases and decreases per cycle, for each of the different sixteen amino acid types. Tables generated from data from different experiments can thus be added together to generate average relative frequency values (and their standard deviations). All standard deviations can then be averaged, to estimate a standard deviation value applicable to the samples from each table. Any particular value exceeding 1.00 by more than two standard deviations is considered to correspond to a significant increase.
  • The results of the foregoing analysis for HLA-A3.2 were as follows: at position 2, a 2.2-fold increase in valine (V) with lesser increases (1.5-1-7) for structurally similar residues leucine (L) and methionine. My. At position 3, tyrosine (Y) and aspartic acid (0) showed increases in frequency. At position 7 isoleucine (I) was increased, and at position 8 asparagine (N), and glutamine (Q) were increased. At positions 9 and 10, lysine (K) was increased more than 2-fold over the expected random yield.
  • Cysteine was not modified and thus not detected tryptophan coeluted with diphenylurea, and in some experiments, PTH-arginine coeluted with the major derivative of PTH-threonine. Therefore, cysteine and tryptophan are not detectable and arginine is detected only in the absence of threonine.
  • Previously described MHC structures showed instances of critically conserved residues at position 2 (or 3) and at the C terminus (either position 9 or 10}. These residues are referred to as “conserved” residues. The modified data analysis of this invention considered the conserved positions at the N and C terminals.
  • Thus, the HLA-A3.2 motif should have position two occupied by V, L or M, a length of 9 or 10 amino acids, and C-terminal position occupied by K.
  • Example 11 Definition of an A2.1. Specific Motif
  • In one case, pooled peptide fractions prepared as described in Example above were obtained from HLA-A2.1 homozygous cell lines, for example, JY. The pooled fractions were HPLC fractions corresponding to 7% to 45% CH3CN. For this class I molecule, this region of the chromatogram was most abundant in peptides. Data from independent experiments were averaged as described below.
  • The amino acid sequence analyses from four independent experiments were analyzed and the results are shown in TABLE 148 and TABLE 149. For each position except the first, the data were analyzed by modifying the method described by Falk et al., supra, to allow for comparison of experiments from different HLA types. This modified procedure yielded quantitative yet standardized values while allowing the averaging of data from different experiments involving the same HLA type.
  • The raw sequenator data was converted to a simple matrix of 10 rows (each representing one Edman degradation cycle) and 16 columns (each representing one of the twenty amino acids; W, C, R and H were eliminated for technical reasons. The data corresponding to the first row (first cycle) was not considered further because, this cycle is usually heavily contaminated by free amino acids). The values of each row were summed to yield a total pmoles value for that particular cycle. For each row, values for each amino acid were then divided by the corresponding total yield value, to determine what fraction of the total signal is attributable to each amino acid at each cycle. By doing so, an “Absolute Frequency” table was generated. This absolute frequency table allows correction for the declining yields of each cycle.
  • Starting from the absolute frequency table, a “relative frequency” table was then generated to allow comparisons among different amino acids. To do so the data from each column was summed, and then averaged. Then, each value was divided next by the average column value to obtain relative frequency values. These values quantitate, in a standardized manner, increases and decreases per cycle, for each of the different sixteen amino acid types. Tables generated from data from different experiments can thus be added together to generate average relative frequency values (and their standard deviations). All standard deviations can then be averaged, to estimate a standard deviation value applicable to the samples from each table. Any particular value exceeding 1.00 by more than two standard deviations is considered to correspond to a significant increase.
  • Example 12 HLA-A2.1. Binding Motif and Algorithm
  • The structural requirements for peptide binding to A2.1 have been defined for both, 9-mer and 10-mer peptides. Two approaches have been used. The first approach referred to as the “poly-A approach” uses a panel of single amino acid substitutions of a 9-mer prototype poly-A binder (ALAKAAAAV (SEQ ID NO:______)) that is tested for A2.1 binding using the methods of Example 4 above to examine the degree of degeneracy of the anchor-positions and the possible influence of non-anchor positions on A2.1 binding.
  • The second approach, the “Motif-Library approach”, uses a large library of peptides selected from sequences of potential target molecules of viral and tumor origin and tested for A2.1 binding using the methods in Example 4 above. The frequencies by which different amino-acids occurred at each position in good binders and non-binders were analysed to further define the role of non-anchor positions in 9-mers and 10-mers.
  • A2.1 Binding of Peptide 9-mers
  • Poly A Approach. A poly-A 9-mer peptide, containing the A2.1 motif L (Leu) in position 2 and V (Val) in position 9 was chosen as a prototype binder. A K (Lys) residue was included in position 4 to increase solubility. A panel of 91 single amino-acid substitution analogues of the prototype parental 9-mer was synthesized and tested for A2.1 binding (TABLES 150 and 151). Shaded areas mark analogs with a greater than 10-fold reduction in binding capacity relative to the parental peptide. A reduction in binding greater than 100-fold is indicated by hyphenation.
  • Anchor-Positions 2 and 9 in poly-A Analogs. The effect of single-amino-acid substitutions at the anchor positions 2 and 9 was examined first. Most substitutions in these positions had profound detrimental effects on binding capacity, thus confirming their role for binding. More specifically, in position 2 only L and M bound within a 10-fold range (“preferred residues”). Residues with similar characteristics, such as I, V, A, and T were tolerated, but bound 10 to 100-fold less strongly than the parental peptide. All the remaining substitutions (residues S, N, D, F, C, K, G, and P) were not tolerated and decreased binding by more than 100-fold. Comparably stringent requirements were observed for position 9, where V, L and I were preferred and A and M are tolerated, while the residues T, C, N, F, and Y virtually abolished binding. According to this set of peptides, an optimal 2-9 motif could be defined with L, M in position 2 and V, I, or L in position 9.
  • Non-Anchor Positions 1 and 3-8 in poly-A Analogs. All non-anchor positions were more permissive to different substitutions than the anchor-positions 2 and 9, i.e most residues were tolerated. Significant decreases in binding were observed for some substitutions in distinct positions. More specifically, in position 1 a negative charge (residues D and E) or a P greatly reduced the binding capacity. Most substitutions were tolerated in position 3 with the exception of the residue K. Significant decreases were also seen in position 6 upon introduction of either a negative charge (D, E) or a positively charged residue (R). A summary of these effects by different single amino acid substitutions is given in TABLES 152 and 153.
  • The Motif-Library Approach. To further evaluate the importance of non-anchor positions for binding, peptides of potential target molecules of viral and tumor origin were scanned for the presence of sequences containing optimal 2-9 anchor motifs. A set of 161 peptides containing a L or M in position 2 and a V, L or I in position 9 was selected, synthesized and tested for binding (see Example 6). Only 11.8% of these peptides bind with high affinity (ratio ≧0.10; 22.4% were intermediate binders (ratio ≧0.1). As many as 36% were weak binders (ratio <0.01-0.0001), and 31% were non-binders (ratio <0.0001). The high number of non-binders containing optimal anchor-motifs indicates that in this set of peptides positions other than the 2-9 anchors influence A2.1 binding capacity. Appendix 1 sets forth all of the peptides having the 2-9 motif used for this analysis and the binding data for those peptides.
  • To define the influence on non-anchor positions more specifically, the frequency of occurrence of each amino acid in each of the non-anchor positions was calculated for the good and intermediate binders on one hand and non-binders on the other hand. Amino acids of similar chemical characteristic were grouped together. Weak binders were not considered for the following analysis. The frequency of occurrence of each amino acid in each of the non-anchor positions was calculated for the good binders and non-binders (TABLE 154).
  • Several striking trends become apparent. For example in position 1, only 3.6% of the A2.1 binders and as much as 35% of the non-binders carried a negative charge (residues D and E). This observation correlates well with previous findings in the set of poly-A analogs, where a D or E substitution greatly affected binding. Similarly, the residue P was 8 times more frequent in non-binders than in good binders. Conversely, the frequencies of aromatic residues (Y, F, W) were greatly increased in A2.1 binders as compared to non-binders.
  • Following this approach, amino acids of similar structural characteristics were grouped together. Then, the frequency of each amino acid group in each position was calculated for binders versus non-binders (TABLE 155). Finally, the frequency in the binders group was divided by the frequency in the non-binders to obtain a “frequency ratio”. This ratio indicates whether a given amino-acid or group of residues occurs in a given position preferentially in good binders (ratio >1) or in non-binders (ratio <1).
  • Different Residues Influence A2.1 Binding. In order to analyse the most striking influences of certain residues on A2.1 binding, a threshold level was set for the ratios described in TABLE 155. Residues showing a more than 4-fold greater frequency in good binders were regarded as preferred residues (+). Residues showing a 4-fold lower frequency in A2.1 binders than in non-binders were regarded as disfavored residues (−). Following this approach, residues showing the most prominent positive or negative effects on binding are listed in TABLE 156.
  • This table identifies the amino acid groups which influence binding most significantly in each of the non-anchor positions. In general, the most negative effects were observed with charged amino acids. In position 1, negatively, charged amino acids were not observed in good binders, i.e., those amino acids were negative binding residues at position 1. The opposite was true for position 6 where only basic amino acids were detrimental for binding i.e., were negative binding residues. Moreover, both acidic and basic amino acids were not observed in A2.1 binders in positions 3 and 7. A greater than 4-fold increased frequency of non-binders was found when P was in position 1.
  • Aromatic residues were in general favored in several of the non-anchor positions, particularly in positions 1, 3, and 5. Small residues like S, T, and C were favored in position 4 and A was favored in position 7.
  • An Improved A2.1 9-mer Motif. The data described above was used to derive a stringent A2.1 motif. This motif is based in significant part on the effects of the non-anchor positions 1 and 3-8. The uneven distribution of amino acids at different positions is reflective of specific dominant negative binding effects of certain residues, mainly charged ones, on binding affinity. A series of rules were derived to identify appropriate anchor residues in positions 2 and 9 and negative binding residues at positions 1 and 3-8 to enable selection of a high affinity binding immunogenic peptide. These rules are summarized in TABLE 157.
  • To validate the motif defined above and shown in TABLE 157 published sequences of peptides that have been naturally processed and presented by A2.1 molecules were analysed (TABLE 158). Only 9-mer peptides containing the 2-9 anchor residues were considered.
  • When the frequencies of these peptides were analysed, it was found that in general they followed the rules summarized in TABLE 157. More specifically, neither acidic amino acids nor P were found in position 1. Only one acidic amino acid and no basic amino acids were found in position 3. Positions 6 and 7 showed no charged residues. Acidic amino acids, however, were frequently found in position 8, where they are tolerated, according to our definition of the A2.1 motif. The analysis of the sequences of naturally processed peptides therefore reveals that >90% of the peptides followed the defined rules for a complete motif.
  • Thus the data confirms a role of positions other than the anchor positions 2 and 9 for A2.1 binding. Most of the deleterious effects on binding are induced by charged amino acids in non-anchor positions, i.e. negative binding residues occupying positions 1, 3, 6 or 7.
  • A2.1 Binding of Peptide 10-mers
  • The “Motif-Library” Approach. Previous data clearly indicated that 10-mers can also bind to HLA molecules even if with a somewhat lower affinity than 9-mers. For this reason we expanded our analysis to 10-mer peptides.
  • Therefore, a “Motif-Library” set of 170 peptide 10-mers containing optimal motif-combinations was selected from known target molecule sequences of viral and tumor origin and analysed as described above for 9-mers. In this set we found 5.9% good binders, 17.1% intermediate binders, 41.2% weak binders and 35.9% non-binders. The actual sequences, origin and binding capacities of this set of peptides are included as TABLE 182. This set of 10-mers was used to determine a) the rules for 10-mer peptide binding to A2.1, b) the similarities or differences to rules defined for 9-mers, and c) if an insertion point can be identified that would allow for a superimposable common motif for 9-mers and 10-mers.
  • Amino-acid frequencies and frequency ratios for the various amino-acid groups for each position were generated for 10-mer peptides as described above for 9-mer peptides and are also shown in TABLE 159 and TABLE 160, respectively for grouped residues.
  • A summary of preferred versus disfavored residues and of the rules derived for the 10-mers in a manner analogous to that used for 9-mers, is also listed in TABLE 161 and TABLE 162, respectively.
  • When the frequency-ratios of different amino-acid groups in binders and non-binders at different positions were analysed and compared to the corresponding ratios for the 9-mers, both striking similarities and significant differences emerged (TABLES 163 and 164). At the N-terminus and the C-termini of 9-mers and 10-mers, similarities predominate. In position 1 for example, in 10-mers again the P residue and acidic amino acids were not-tolerated. In addition at position 1 in 10-mers aromatic residues were frequently observed in A2.1 binders. In position 3, acidic amino acids were frequently associated with poor binding capacity in both 9-mers and 10-mers. Interestingly, however, while in position 3 aromatic residues were preferred in 9-mers, aliphatic residues (L, V, I, M) were preferred in 10-mers.
  • At the C-terminus of the peptides, basic amino acids are not favored in position 7, and both acidic and basic amino acids are not favored in position 8 for 10-mers. This is in striking agreement with the observation that the same pattern was found in 9-mers at positions 6 and 7. Interestingly, again the favored residues differ between two peptides sizes. Aromatic (Y, F, W) or aliphatic (L, V, I, M) residues were preferred in 10-mers at position 8, while the A residue was preferred by 9-mers in the corresponding position 7.
  • By contrast, in the center of the peptide no similarities of frequency preferences were observed at positions 4, 5, and 6 in 10-mers and positions 4 and 5 in the 9-mers.
  • Most interestingly, among the residues most favored in the center of the tested peptides were G in position 4 and 6, P in position 5 was not observed in binders. All of these residues are known to dramatically influence the overall secondary structure of peptides, and in particular would be predicted to strongly influence the propensity of a 10-mer to adopt a “kinked” or “bulged” conformation.
  • Charged residues are predominantly deleterious for binding and are frequently observed in non-binders of 9-mers and 10-mers.
  • However, favored residues are different for 9-mers and 10-mers. Glycine is favored while Proline is disfavored in the center of 10-mer peptides but this is not the case for 9-mers.
  • These data establish the existence of an “insertion area” spanning two positions (4, 5) in 9-mers and 3 positions (4, 5, 6) in 10-mers. This insertion area is a more permissive region where few residue similarities are observed between the 9-mer and 10-mer antigenic peptides. Furthermore, in addition to the highly conserved anchor positions 2 and 9, there are “anchor areas” for unfavored residues in positions 1 and 3 at the N-terminus for both 9-mer and 10-mer and positions 7-10 or 6-9 at the C-terminus for 10-mers and 9-mers, respectively.
  • Example 13 Algorithm to Predict Binding of 9-mer Peptides to HLA-A2.1
  • Within the population of potential A2.1 binding peptides identified by the 2,9 motif, as shown in the previous example, only a few peptides are actually good or intermediate binders and thus potentially immunogenic. It is apparent from the data previously described that the residues present in positions other than 2 and 9 can influence, often profoundly, the binding affinity of a peptide. For example, acidic residues at position 1 for A2.1 peptides do not appear to be tolerated. Therefore, a more exact predictor of binding could be generated by taking into account the effects of different residues at each position of a peptide sequence, in addition to positions 2 and 9.
  • More specifically, we have utilized the data bank obtained during the screening of our collection of A2.1 motif containing 9-mer peptides to develop an algorithm which assigns a score for each amino acid, at each position along a peptide. The score for each residue is taken as the ratio of the frequency of that residue in good and intermediate binders to the frequency of occurrence of that residue in non-binders.
  • In the present “Grouped Ratio” algorithm residues have been grouped by similarity. This avoids the problem encountered with some rare residues, such as tryptophan, where there are too few occurrences to obtain a statistically significant ratio. TABLES 165 and 166 is a listing of scores obtained by grouping for each of the twenty amino acids by position for 9-mer peptides containing perfect 2/9 motifs. A peptide is scored in the “Grouped Ratio” algorithm as a product of the scores of each of its residues. In the case of positions other than 2 and 9, the scores have been derived using a set of peptides which contain only preferred residues in positions 2 and 9. To enable us to extend our “Grouped Ratio” algorithm. to peptides which may have residues other than the preferred ones at 2 and 9, scores for 2 and 9 have been derived from a set of peptides which are single amino acid substitutions at positions 2 and 9. FIG. 45 shows a scattergram of the log of relative binding plotted against “Grouped Ratio” algorithm score for our collection of 9-mer peptides from the previous example.
  • The present “Grouped Ratio” algorithm can be used to predict a population of peptides with the highest occurrence of good binders. If one were to rely, for example, solely on a 2(L,M) and 9(V) motif for predicting A2.1 binding 9-mer peptides, it would have been predicted that all 160 peptides in our database would be good binders. In fact, as has already been described, only 12% of these peptides would be described as good binders and only 22% as intermediate binders; 66% of the peptides predicted by such a 2,9 motif are either weak or non-binding peptides. In contrast, using the “Grouped Ratio” algorithm described above, and selecting a score of 1.0 as threshold, 41 peptides were selected. Of this set, 27% are good binders, and 49% are intermediate, while only 20% are weak and 5% are non-binders (TABLE 167).
  • The present example of an algorithm has used the ratio of binders/non-binders to measure the impact of a particular residue at each position of a peptide. It is immediately apparent to one of ordinary skill that there are alternative ways of creating a similar algorithm.
  • An algorithm using the average binding affinity of all the peptides with a certain amino acid (or amino acid type) at a certain position has the advantage of including all of the peptides in the analysis, and not just good/intermediate binders and non-binders. Moreover, it gives a more quantitative measure of affinity than the simpler “Grouped Ratio” algorithm. We have created such an algorithm by calculating for each amino acid, by position, the average log of binding when that particular residue occurs in our set of 160 2,9 motif containing peptides. These values are shown in TABLE 168. The algorithm score for a peptide is then taken as the sum of the scores by position for each residues. FIG. 46 shows a scattergram of the log of relative binding against the average “Log of Binding” algorithm score. TABLE 167 shows the ability of the two algorithms to predict peptide binding at various levels, as a function of the cut-off score used. The ability of a 2,9 motif to predict binding in the same peptide set is also shown for reference purposes. It is clear from this comparison that both algorithms of this invention have a greater ability to predict populations with higher frequencies of good binders than a 2,9 motif alone. Differences between the “Grouped Ratio” algorithm and the “Log of Binding” algorithm are small in the set of peptides analyzed here, but do suggest that the “Log of Binding” algorithm is a better, if only slightly, predictor than the “Grouped Ratio” algorithm.
  • The log of binding algorithm was further revised in two ways. First, poly-alanine (poly-A) data were incorporated into the algorithms at the anchor positions for residues included in the expanded motifs where data obtained by screening a large library of peptides were not available. Second, an “anchor requirement screening filter” was incorporated into the algorithm. The poly-A approach is described in detail, above. The “anchor requirement screening filter” refers to the way in which residues are scored at the anchor positions, thereby providing the ability to screen out peptides which do not have preferred or tolerated residues in the anchor positions. This is accomplished by assigning a score for unacceptable residues at the anchor positions which are so high as to preclude any peptide which contains them from achieving an overall score which would allow it to be considered as a potential binder.
  • The results for 9-mers and 10-mers are presented in TABLE 177 and TABLE 178, below. In these tables, values are group values as follows: A; G; P; D,E; R,H,K; L,I,V,M; F,Y,W; S,T,C; and Q,N, except where noted in the tables.
  • Example 14 Use of an Algorithm to Predict Binding of 10-mer Peptides to HLA-A2.1
  • Using the methods described in the proceeding example, an analogous set of algorithms has been developed for predicting the binding of 10-mer peptides. TABLE 169 shows the scores used in a “Grouped Ratio” algorithm, and TABLE 170 shows the “Log of Binding” algorithm scores, for 10-mer peptides. TABLE 171 shows a comparison of the application of the two different algorithmic methods for selecting binding peptides. FIG. 47 and FIG. 48 show, respectively, scattergrams of a set of 10-mer peptides containing preferred residues in positions 2 and 10 as scored by the “Grouped Ratio” and “Log of Binding” algorithms.
  • Example 15 Binding of A2.1 Algorithm Predicted Peptides
  • The results of Examples 6 and 7 indicate that an algorithm can be used to select peptides that bind to HLA-A2.1 sufficiently to have a high probability of being immunogenic.
  • To test this result, we tested our algorithm on a large (over 1300) non-redundant, independent set of peptides derived from various sources. After scoring this set with our algorithm, we selected 41 peptides (TABLE 171) for synthesis, and tested them for A2.1 binding. This set of peptides was comprised of 21 peptides with high algorithm scores, and 20 peptides with low algorithm scores.
  • The binding data and categorization profile are shown in TABLE 172 and TABLE 173 respectively. The correlation between binding and algorithm score was 0.69. It is immediately apparent from TABLE 173 the striking difference between peptides with high algorithm scores, and those with low algorithm scores. Respectively, 76% of the high scorers and none of the low scorers were either good or intermediate binders. This data demonstrates the utility of the algorithm of this invention.
  • Example 16 HLA A2.1 Allele-Specific Motif and HLA A2 Supermotif Binding
  • We have also derived further information on the structural requirements of A2.1 binding. To do this we first sought to determine the degree of permissiveness of anchor positions 2 and 9. For this purpose, a panel of analogs bearing single substitutions at either position 2 or 9 of a model poly (A) 9-mer peptide containing the previously reported A2.1 motif L in position 2 and V in position 9 (Ruppert, et al, Cell 74:929-937 (1993) was synthesized, and its binding capacity measured. Thirteen different analogs were synthesized for both anchor positions 2 and 9.
  • The present invention also encompasses analogs of peptides bearing the A2.1 allele-specific motif and the A2 supermotif. Analog peptides can have amino acid substitution at primary and/or secondary anchor positions of the A2.1 allele-specific motif or of the A2 supermotif. The complete structural requirements of peptide binding to the HLA A2.1 allele-specific motif are disclosed for the first time herein. This information was developed by determining the degree of permissiveness for amino acids at primary anchor positions 2 and 9. For this purpose, a panel of analogs bearing single substitutions at either position 2 or 9 of a model poly (A) 9-mer peptide containing the previously reported A2.1 motif, L in position 2 and V in position 9 (Ruppert, et al, Cell 74:929 (1993) was synthesized, and the peptides' binding capacity measured. Thirteen different analogs were synthesized for both anchor positions 2 and 9.
  • In good agreement with the previously reported A2.1 motif allele-specific, the peptides carrying L or M in position 2 were the best binders. Decreases in binding capacity (10- to 100-fold) were apparent even with relatively conservative substitutions such as isoleucine (I), valine (V), alanine (A), and threonine (T). Similar data (not shown) were found for glutamine (Q) at positions 2. More radical changes (i.e., residues D, K, F, C, P, G, N, and S) completely abolished binding capacity. Similar results were obtained at position 9, where only conservative substitutions such as L and I bound within 10-fold of the unsubstituted model poly A A2.1 peptide. Analogs carrying A or M substitutions also bound, but less strongly (10- to 100-fold decrease). Finally, all other substitutions tested (C, N, F, S, G, P, and R) were associated with complete loss of A2.1 binding capacity. Thus, based on these data and in good agreement with previous studies (Falk et al. Nature 351:290 (1991) and Hunt et al. Science 255:1261 91992)), an A2.1 allele motif is now defined as set forth in Tables 137 and 138. Thus, based on these data and in good agreement with previous studies (19-20), a “canonical” A2.1 motif could be identified as L or M in position 2 and L. V. or I in position 9.
  • Analogs to peptides bearing an HLA A2.1 allele-specific motif may be created based on the substitution of specific residues at primary anchor positions. For example, analog peptides with an enhanced binding affinity for HLA A2.1 molecules may be engineered by substituting preferred residues for tolerated residues at primary anchor positions. Examples of such substitutions and the effects on A2.1 binding are shown in TABLE 147. For this study, a set of 25 HLA A2.1 peptides of different relative binding values was selected. For each of the peptides a substitution of one, or in some instances both, primary anchor positions was made. In the case of the position 2 primary anchor residue, the analog peptide was made with a leucine or methionine substitution. For the C-terminal primary anchor position, a valine residue was substituted in the analogued peptide. In all single substitution analogued peptides, improved HLA A2.1 binding was observed. Significant improvement in binding was also observed in several peptides that contained substitutions at both primary anchor positions. These results indicate that it is possible to improve the binding of a peptide that bears tolerated or less preferred primary anchor residues by substitution with preferred or optimal amino acid residues.
  • TABLE 147. Binding activities of analogs of A2.1 motif-bearing peptides. The “(a)” indicates an analogued peptide. Relative binding to A2.1 HLA molecules is shown in the last column. Binding is expressed as a ratio of binding of the test peptide relative to a standard peptide. A higher value for the analog relative to the native sequence indicates an increase in binding affinity of the analog relative to the native sequence. The standard A2.1 peptide (FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______)) binds to A2.1 molecules with an IC50 of 5.0. The ratio is converted to IC50 by dividing the IC50 of the standard peptide, i.e. 5.0, by the ratio shown in the table.
  • Development of the HLA-A2 Supertype. Direct HLA binding assays with radiolabeled peptides and mammalian cells which express HLA class I molecules, such as EBV-transformed B cell lines and PHA-activated blasts have been developed. Significant binding of the radiolabeled probe could be obtained if the target cells were preincubated overnight at 26° C. in the presence of β2-microglobulin. Under these conditions, up to a few percent of the HLA molecules expressed by either cell type could be bound by the labeled peptides. With these assays, the degree of cross-reactivity of the A*0201-restricted hepatitis B virus core 18-27 peptide with other A2 subtypes was examined. It was determined that this peptide epitope also bound the A*0202, A*0205, and A*0206 but not A*0207 allele-specific HLA molecules.
  • Inhibition experiments with panels of synthetic peptide analogs underlined the similar ligand specificities of the HLA-A*0201, A*0202, and A*0205 alleles. Furthermore, analysis of the polymorphic residues that help form the polymorphic B and F pockets of various HLA alleles allowed prediction of binding of the hepatitis B virus core 18-27 epitope to two other HLA alleles (HLA-A*6802 and A*6901). The B and F pockets are the pockets on the HLA molecules that come into contact with positions 2 and the C-terminus of a peptide, respectively. Thus, it appears that a family of at least six different HLA-A molecules (A*0201, A*0202, A*0205, A*0206, A*6802, A*6901) collectively defined as the A2 supertype, share overlapping ligand specificities. Furthermore, use of purified HLA molecules in binding assays have demonstrated that A*0203 and A*0207 are also properly included in the A2 supertype.
  • Therefore, based on these results for the HLA A2.1 allele-specific motif, findings are extrapolated to the HLA A2 supermotif. The A2 supertype binding of any peptide which carries a “non-canonical” (but still acceptable) residue in position 2 or 9 (or 10) (for example A, T, or Q in 2; or L, A, M or T in 9 or 10) is increased by creating an analog which replaces the acceptable residue with a more “canonical” or preferred anchor. For example, the FHV Env 2181 peptide with sequence (LWVTVYYGV (SEQ ID NO:______)) bind A2.1 with a IC50% of 12,500 nM, while the position 2 anchor substituted analog LMVTVYYGV (SEQ ID NO:______) binds with IC50% of 3.3 nM. The HBVc 18-27 naturally occurring sequence FLPSDFFPSI (SEQ ID NO:______) binds A2.1 with IC50% 22 nM, but its C-terminal anchor substituted Vlo variant binds A2.1 with a Kd of 2.5 nM. For example, the HBV pol 538 peptide (YMDDVVLGA (SEQ ID NO:______)) binds A2.1 with an IC50 of 200 nM, while an analog containing a V substitution at position 9 binds with an IC50 of 5.1 nM. Other examples of fixed anchor peptides are shown in TABLE 145. Some of the fixed peptides were tested for their ability to induct CTL responses. For example, the HIV Env 2181 peptide and the HBV pol 721 peptides were tested in primary CTL assays (21), and found to be positive. Positive CTL recognition data exists also for the HBV 18-27 and HBV pol 538 peptides.
  • The binding activity of a peptide that does not bear a motif, but that is selected on the basis of similarity to a known peptide epitope that has the ability to bind an HLA molecule, may also be modulated. Such a peptide may be engineered to enhance binding to HLA molecules by substituting primary anchor residues, as designated for the particular motif, for non-anchor residues such that a motif-bearing peptide is created. For example, the HIV Env 2181 peptide with sequence (LWVTVYYGV (SEQ ID NO:______)), which does not bear an A2.1 motif or A2 supermotif primary anchor residue at position 2, binds A2.1 with an IC50 of 12,500 nM, while the position 2 anchor substituted analog LMVTVYYGV (SEQ ID NO:______) binds with an IC50 of 3.3 nM.
  • Analogoued peptides may also be tested for their ability to induce CTL responses. For example, the analog HIV Env 2181 peptide was tested in primary CTL assays, and found to be positive (Wentworth et al. Molec. Immunol. 32: 603-612 91995)). Positive CTL recognition data also exist for the HBV pol 538 peptide.
  • The A2 supermotif may also be used to create substituted analogs, enhancing the binding affinity of such a peptide for several members of the A2 supertype. An example of how such analoguing was accomplished was demonstrated with the peptide HPV 16 EF.86-93 TLGIVCPI (SEQ ID NO:______) and its analog TLGIVXPI (SEQ ID NO:______) (where X stands for α amino butyric acid). The binding patterns of these two peptides for A2 alleles, i.e., for the A2 supertype, was then tested. It was found that the X substitution greatly increased binding affinity for all A2 alleles, resulting in a more useful peptide, characterized by increased binding capacity and broader crossreactivity than its original parent sequence. Furthermore, the peptide was more stable and less subject to oxidation. Subsequent experiments utilizing A2/Kb transgenic mice demonstrated that CTLs induced by the X-substituted peptide were fully crossreactive with the wild type sequence, and that the X peptide, as a result of its higher binding affinity, was a more potent immunogen.
  • In conclusion, from the data shown herein, analogs are created of A2.1 peptides (9-mers or 10-mers) at primary and/or secondary residues. Such analogs exhibit higher binding affinity by substituting out “negative” or neutral residues from a native sequence, and inserting either neutral or preferred residues. These peptides are understood to have unique immunological properties in that they, while still crossreactive with the wild type sequences, may not be subject to tolerance, deletion or suppressive mechanisms, which serve to inactivate a CTL response to the wild type sequence, present as a result of cancer or infection.
  • Determination of Secondary Residues and an Extended A2.1 Motif for 9-mer and 10-mer Peptides.
  • Analysis of 9-mer Peptide Binding to HLA A2.1 Molecules. Data have revealed a prominent role for residues that are not primary anchors in determining binding capacity of 9-mer peptides for A*0201. The results of these analyses are described in Ruppert et al., Cell 74:929 (1993). Accordingly, the frequency of a given amino acid group in A2.1 binding peptides was divided by the frequency of nonbinding peptides to obtain a frequency ratio. This ratio indicates whether a residue occurs at a given position preferentially in binding (ratio >1) or nonbinding peptides (ratio <1). To facilitate the analysis, a threshold level was set for the ratios, such that residues present at more than 4-fold greater frequency in binding peptides compared with nonbinding peptides were regarded as favored or preferred residues, and residues present at less than 4-fold lower frequency in binding peptides than in nonbinding peptides were regarded as unfavored or deleterious residues. Following this approach, groups of residues showing prominent associations as having favored or unfavored binding, respectively, were identified.
  • In general, the most detrimental effects were observed with charged amino acids. At position 1, both P and acidic (E and D) residues were infrequent in A2.1-binding peptides. At position 6, basic (H, R, and K) residues were associated with nonbinding peptides, whereas both acidic and basic residues were infrequent in good binding peptides at positions 3 and 7. Conversely, aromatic residues were associated with high affinity binding in positions 1, 3, and 5. Furthermore, residues with OH— or SH— containing side chains, such as S, T, or C, were favored at position 4, while A was favored in position 7 and P in position 8. In conclusion, these frequency analyses allowed for the definition of an extended A2.1 motif that takes into account the impact of secondary anchor positions (other than primary anchor positions 2 and C-terminus) for peptide binding to HLA A2.1 molecules. The extended A2.1 9-mer motif is set forth in TABLE 138.
  • Analysis of 10-mer Peptide Binding to HLA A2.1 Molecules. The same approach described above for 9-mer peptides was also used to analyze the data obtained with a set of 10-mer peptides. At the N- and C-termini of the peptides, the pattern observed was rather similar to the one observed with 9-mers. For instance, in the 10-mer set, as in the case 10 of the 9-mer peptides, position 1 was characterized by an increased frequency of aromatic residues in the binder set, while negative charges and P were again associated with poor binding. Again at position 3, amino acids with negative charge were associated with poor binding. Interestingly, at this position, aliphatic (rather than aromatic) residues were associated with high affinity binding. At the C-termini of the peptides, certain similarities were also observed. In the 10-mer, the penultimate residue at position 9 (corresponding to position 8 in the 9-mer) was quite permissive, with only basic residues being found more frequently in nonbinding peptides. Similar to the situation at position 7 in the 9-mer, neither positive nor negative charges were tolerated in the antepenultimate position 8 of the 10-mers. Also, position 7 did not favor positive-residues in the 10-mers, as previously observed for position 6 in the 9-mers. In comparison to what was observed at position 3 (for both 9-mers and 10-mers), the residues associated with good binding were, however, different. Aromatic and hydrophobic residues were frequent in high affinity binders at position 8 (as opposed to only A being frequent at position 7 in the 9-mers).
  • Finally, a rather distinctive pattern was observed in the middle of the peptide. At position 4, G was favored in high affinity binding peptides, while both A and positive charges were very frequent in nonbinding peptides. P, in position 5, was completely absent in peptides that bind to HLA A2.1 molecules. It is noteworthy that none of the trends observed in positions 4 and 5 in the 10-mer set have any counterpart in position 3 or 4 in the 9-mer set.
  • In summary, an extended motif has been generated for A2.1 binding 10-mer peptides, following a strategy similar to the one described for 9-mer peptides above. The extended A2.10-mer motif is set forth in TABLE 138. Both important differences and striking similarities were noted in comparing the 9-mer and 10-mer sets at these nonanchor positions.
  • Example 17 HLA Class I A3 Supertype Binding
  • This example provides supermotif data useful for the preparation of analogs of supermotif-bearing peptides as well as for determination of native sequences with particular properties. The supermotif data were derived by calculating at each non-anchor position along the peptide sequence the average relative binding capacity of peptides carrying each of the 20 common amino acids, grouped according to individual chemical similarities.
  • A-3 Supermotif
  • HLA class I protein purification. The following Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed homozygous cell lines were used as sources of class I molecules: GM3107 (A3, B7; Human Genetic Mutant Repository); BVR (A11, B35.3, Cw4; Human Genetic Mutant Repository); SPACH (A31, B62, Cw1/3; ASHI Repository Collection); and LWAGS (A*3301, B14, Cw8; ASHI Repository Collection) (Bodmer,et al, Hum. Immunol. 43:149 (1995)). A C1R transfectant characterized by Dr. Walter Storkus (University of Pittsburgh) was used for the isolation of A*6801. Cell lines were maintained as previously described (Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994)).
  • Cell lysates were prepared and HLA class I molecules purified as previously described (Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994)). Briefly, cells were lysed at a concentration of 108 cells/ml in 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 8.5, containing 1% Nonidet P-40 (Fluka Biochemika, Buchs, Switzerland), 150 mM NaCl, 5 mM EDTA, and 2 mM PMSF. The lysates were passed through 0.45 μM filters and cleared of nuclei and debris by centrifugation at 10,000 g for 20 minutes. HLA proteins were then purified by affinity chromatography. Columns of inactivated Sepharose CL 4B and Protein A Sepharose were used as precolumns. The cell lysate was depleted of HLA-B and HLA-C proteins by repeated passage over Protein A Sepharose beads conjugated with the anti-HLA(B,C) antibody B1.23.2 (Rebai, et al., Tissue Antigens 22:107 (1983)). Typically two to four passages were required for effective depletion. Subsequently, the anti HLA(A,B,C) antibody W6/32 (Barnstable, et al., Cell 14:9 (1978)) was used to capture HLA-A molecules. Protein purity, concentration, and effectiveness of depletion steps were monitored by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE).
  • Binding assays. Quantitative assays for the binding of peptides to soluble class I molecules on the basis of the inhibition of binding of a radiolabeled standard probe peptide to detergent solubilized HLA molecules were performed as previously described (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994); Kast, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3904 (1994); Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994); Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)). Briefly, 1-10 nM of radiolabeled probe peptide, iodinated by the Chloramine-T method (Greenwood, et al., Biochem. J. 89:114 (1963)), was co-incubated at room temperature with various amounts of HLA in the presence of 1 μM human β2-microglobulin (Scripps Laboratories, San Diego, Calif., USA) and a cocktail of protease inhibitors. At the end of a two day incubation period, the percent of HLA-bound radioactivity was determined by size exclusion gel filtration chromatography on a TSK 2000 column.
  • The A3CON1 peptide (sequence KVFPYALINK (SEQ ID NO:______)) (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994)) was used as the radiolabeled probe for the A3, A11, A31, and A*6801 assays. A T7Y analog of HBVc 141-151 (sequence STLPETYVVRR (SEQ ID NO:______)) (Missale, et al., J. Exp. Med. 177:751 (1993)) was used as the radiolabeled probe for the A*3301 assay. In the case of competitive assays, the concentration of peptide yielding 50% inhibition of the binding of the radiolabeled probe peptide (IC50) was calculated. Peptides were usually tested at one or two high doses, and the IC50 of peptides yielding positive inhibition were determined in subsequent experiments, in which two to six further dilutions were tested, as necessary. HLA concentrations yielding approximately 15% binding of the radiolabeled probe peptide were used for all competitive inhibition assays. Under these conditions the concentration of the labeled peptide is less than the concentration of the HLA molecule and the IC50 is less than the concentration of the HLA molecule, accordingly the measured IC50s are reasonable approximations of the true KD values. Each competitor peptide was tested in two to four completely independent experiments. As a positive control, in each experiment, the unlabeled version of the relevant radiolabeled probe was tested and its IC50 measured. The average IC50s of A3CON1 for the A3, A11, A31, and A*6801 assays were 11, 6, 18, and 8 nM, respectively. The average IC50 of the HBVc 141-151 peptide in the A*3301 assay was 29 nM.
  • Definition of secondary anchor positions for five HLA-A3 supertype alleles (A3, A11, A31, A3301, A6801). A modification of the procedure used by Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993) to define A*0201 secondary anchor motifs was utilized. Briefly, HLA-specific secondary anchor position motifs were defined by assessing the effect on HLA binding of the 20 commonly occurring amino acids at each non-primary anchor position of 9-mer sequences. Assessment was made by calculating the average relative binding values for each position-amino acid combination (e.g., position 1, alanine; position 2, alanine, etc.). To overcome problems with the low occurrence of certain amino acids, some residues were grouped as previously described (Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)). Residue types associated at a particular position with average binding capacities fourfold higher or lower than the overall average binding capacity of a 200-peptide set were considered to be associated with good or poor binding capacity, respectively.
  • Peptide synthesis. Peptides were either synthesized as previously described (Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)), or purchased as crude material from Chiron Mimotopes (Chiron Corp., Australia). Peptides that were synthesized were purified to >95% homogeneity by reversed-phase high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). The purity of these synthetic peptides was assayed on an analytical reversed-phase column and their composition ascertained by amino acid analysis, sequencing, and/or mass spectrometry analysis.
  • Structural analysis of the peptide-binding pockets of various HLA A3 supertype molecules. Previous studies indicated that the HLA molecules A3, A11, and A*6801 are associated with specificity for ligands carrying small or hydrophobic residues in position 2, and positively charged C-termini (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994); Guo, et al., Nature 360:364 (1994); Falk, et al., Immunogenetics 40:238 (1994); Dibrino, et al., J. Immunol. 151:5930 (1993); DiBrino, et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:1508 (1993); Zhang, et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:2217 (1993); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994)).
  • The side chains of the residue in position 2 and at the C-termini of antigenic peptides are known to contact the residues forming the B and F pockets of HLA class I molecules (Madden, et al., Cell 75:693 (1993); Saper, et al., J. Mol. Biol. 219:277 (1991)), the residues of the HLA molecule that form these polymorphic pockets were tabulated for various putative HLA class I A3 supertype molecules. It was found that the HLA types which are known to recognize peptides with small or hydrophobic residues in position 2 (e.g., A*0101, A*0201, A*0301, A*1101, A*6801, and A*6802), and HLA types which recognize positively charged residues at the C-terminus (e.g., A*0301, A*1101, A*6801, and B*2705) of their peptide ligands shared certain key structural features. In particular, for HLA molecules that bind peptides that have small and hydrophobic residues at position 2, it was found that the HLA molecule carried aliphatic residues (M or V) at positions 45 and 67, and potential hydrogen-bond-forming residues such as N and K, or H and Q at positions 66 and 70, respectively. All of these HLA molecules also carried a Y residue at position 99. In contrast, class I A3 supertype molecules that exhibited different binding specificities differed in one or more of these positions. Similarly, only class I molecules that prefer positively charged C-termini carried D, T, L, and D at positions 77, 80, 81, and 116, respectively.
  • In short, this analysis established that a set of HLA class I molecules (A3, A11, and A*6801), designated as the A3 supertype, share binding repertoires for peptides comprising a motif characterized by small or hydrophobic residues in position 2 and positively charged residues at their C-terminal positions, and share certain key structural features in their B and F pockets. The A3 supertype molecules bind to peptides having a corresponding motif designated as the A3 supermotif.
  • Analysis of other class I HLA molecules for which motifs were unknown, revealed that A*3101, A*3301, A*3401, A*6601, and A*7401 also shared these same consensus sequences in their B and F pockets. Accordingly, these molecules were also designated to be part of the A3 supertype. Falk, et al., Immunogenetics 40:238 (1994) subsequently verified that A31 and A33 are indeed characterized by a repertoire for peptides with an A3 peptide motif.
  • A3 molecules exhibit overlapping primary anchor specificities. To compare the range of motifs recognized by some of the most frequent A3 HLA molecules (A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801), more detailed molecular analysis of the main anchor residues (position 2 and C-terminal) of the peptides bound by these molecules was undertaken. A3- and A11-specific peptide-binding assays measuring the capacity of unlabeled synthetic peptides to inhibit the binding of a radiolabeled peptide to affinity-purified HLA class I molecules have been previously described (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994); Kast, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3904 (1994); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994)). Binding assays specific for A31, A*3301, and A*6801 were developed using similar approaches (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994); Kast, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3904 (1994); del Guercio, et al., J. Immunol. 154:685 (1995); Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995); Sette, et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813 (1994); Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)).
  • Primary anchor specificities of peptides bound by the A3 supertype HLA molecules were subsequently explored by preparing a panel of peptides carrying substitutions at position 2 or 9, 9 being the C terminus, of a prototype poly-alanine 9-mer peptide AXAAAAAX (SEQ ID NO:______). These peptides were tested to evaluate their inhibitory capacity for A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801. Inhibitory capacity was determined by detecting whether the binding of a labeled probe was inhibited in the presence of a peptide from the panel. Each HLA molecule expressed individual preferences, but in the majority of instances, significant peptide binding was obtained when the peptide's position 2 was occupied by either A, I, L, M, S, T, or V, and the C-terminus was either R or K. These data were found to be in good agreement with pool sequencing data previously generated (Kubo, et al., J. Immunol. 152:3913 (1994); Falk, et al., Immunogenetics 40:238 (1994); Dibrino, et al., J. Immunol. 151:5930 (1993); DiBrino, et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad Sci. USA 90:1508 (1993)), and also extended in the cases of A31, A*3301, and A*6801, the definition of the primary anchor motifs.
  • In conclusion, these data indicate that a primary anchor supermotif for the A3 supertype is defined as A, I, L, M, S, T, or V in position 2, and either R or K at the C-terminus.
  • A3 supertype molecules share overlapping peptide-binding repertoires. The extent to which peptides which have the A3 supermotif exhibit cross-reactivity binding amongst the HLA A3 supertype molecules was examined. A set of 200 naturally occurring 9-mer peptide sequences carrying residues A, I, L, M, S, T, or V in position 2 and K or R in the C terminus (i.e., peptides with an A3 supermotif) was assembled. Other than the constraint that each possible anchor combination be represented in proportion to the natural frequency of the individual amino acids, the peptides comprising the set were randomly selected from viral and tumor antigen sequences. When each peptide was tested for its capacity to bind purified A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801 HLA molecules, it was apparent that a unique binding pattern was associated with each allelic type. For example, some peptides were rather selective, binding only one class I type, whereas certain other peptides cross-reacted rather extensively, binding four or five of the molecules tested.
  • It was found that, in general, about 10% (5%-16%) of the peptide-HLA combinations were associated with good binding (IC50≦50 nM), and about 17% (11%-24%) with intermediate binding (IC50 50-500 nM) to any given allele. These frequencies of high and intermediate binding are similar to those previously noted for A*0201 pool-sequencing-motif-containing peptides (Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)).
  • Most notable, however, was the relatively high degree of cross-reactivity observed. Of the 127 peptides that were capable of binding to at least one A3 molecule, 43 of them (34%) bound three or more of the A3 supertype molecules. Four peptides bound all five of the A3 molecules tested. In contrast, in a set of 39 peptides which were tested for binding to five unrelated class 1 molecules (A*0101, A3, A24, and B7), only three (8%) bound to two molecules, and none bound to three or more molecules. The peptides identified as high or intermediate binders for at least four of the five A3 molecules tested are listed in Table 141. In Table 141, good or intermediate binding capacities are defined as IC50≦500 nM, and are highlighted by shading. Taken together, these data demonstrate significant overlap in the binding repertoires of the A3 supertype molecules, and validate the A3 primary anchor supermotif. From the set of peptides used in this evaluation, 10 additional peptides binding with high or intermediate affinity to at least four of the five A3 molecules tested were identified (see, TABLE 141 and below).
  • The peptides identified as high or intermediate binders for at least four of the five A3 molecules tested are listed in TABLE 141. In TABLE 141, good or intermediate binding capacities are defined as IC50≦500 nM, and are highlighted by shading.
  • Taken together, these data demonstrate significant overlap in the binding repertoires of the A3 supertype molecules, and validate the A3 primary anchor supermotif. From the set of peptides used in this evaluation, 10 additional peptides binding with high or intermediate affinity to at least four of the five A3 molecules tested were identified (see, TABLE 141 and below).
  • Secondary Anchor Residues Which Confer Additional Properties to A3 Supermotif-bearing Peptide Ligands. As stated above, although the overlap in the binding repertoires of A3 supertype molecules is significant, each A3 HLA molecule also retains a substantial degree of binding specificity. To understand the basis of the observed cross-reactivities, an extended supermotif that defines molecules having the A3 supermotif primary anchors and further specificities at other positions was defined. The amino acid patterns determined at these non-primary anchor positions are designated as secondary anchor positions.
  • First, refined motifs for each of the A3-like alleles analyzed herein (A3, A11, 30 A31, A*3301, and A*6801), outlining secondary anchor-binding specificities, were derived as described in the Materials and Methods. This approach is similar to the one previously used to define a refined A*0201 motif (Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)). The motifs were derived by calculating at each nonanchor position along the peptide sequence the average relative binding capacity of peptides carrying each of the 20 common amino acids, grouped according to individual chemical similarities. Representative of the data generated by this procedure, the values calculated for A3 are shown in TABLE 140. Following this as an example, 21 different peptides were tested which possessed an aromatic residue (F, W, Y) in position 3 of their sequence. These peptides had an average relative binding capacity to A3 31.7-fold higher than the overall average of the 200-peptide set. By analogy to what was previously described in the case of A*0201, preferred and deleterious residues were defined as residues associated with average binding capacities that were fourfold greater than or fourfold less than, respectively, the overall average. Accordingly, aromatic residues in position 3 were considered “preferred” residues for A3 binding.
  • The extended A3 supermotif including both primary and secondary anchor positions is referred to as an extended A3 supermotif and is employed to identify molecules in a native sequence that possess certain desired properties. Alternatively, the secondary anchors of the supermotif are employed to develop analogs of peptides that possess residues in accordance with the definition of the primary A3 supermotif.
  • The A3 supermotif including both primary and secondary anchor positions is referred to as the extended A3 supermotif, and is employed to identify molecules in a native sequence that possess certain desired properties. Alternatively, the secondary anchors of the supermotif are employed to develop analogs of peptides that possess residues in accordance with the definition of the primary A3 supermotif.
  • Of course, analogs can also be prepared by utilizing the primary supermotif. For example, native peptide sequences that fall within the primary A3 supermotif can be analogued by substitution of another supermotif defined amino acid at a position where another supermotif defined primary anchor amino acid existed in the native sequence. Although presently less preferred, an analog of a native sequence that does not fall within the definition of the primary supermotif is prepared. Accordingly, one or more amino acids within the definition of the primary supermotif is substituted for one or more amino acids of the native sequence which do not fit the supermotif.
  • Accordingly, extended motifs for each of the A3 supertype alleles analyzed herein (A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801) were derived as described in accordance with the methodology used to define the supermotif for the primary anchor residues. This approach was similar to the one previously used to define an extended A*0201 motif (Ruppert, et al., Cell 74:929 (1993)). The extended motifs were derived by calculating at each nonanchor position along the peptide sequence, the average relative binding capacity of peptides carrying each of the 20 common amino acids, grouped according to individual chemical similarities. Representative of the data generated by this procedure, the values calculated for A3 supertype alleles are shown in TABLE 143.
  • For example, 21 different peptides were tested which possessed an aromatic residue (F, W, Y) in position 3 of their sequence. These peptides had an average relative binding capacity to A3 31.7-fold higher than the overall average of the 200-peptide set. By analogy to what was previously described in the case of A*0201, preferred and deleterious residues were defined as residues associated with average binding capacities that were four-fold greater than or four-fold less than, respectively, the overall average. Accordingly, aromatic residues in position 3 were considered “preferred” residues for A3 binding. A similar analysis was performed for each allele (A3, A11, A31, A*3301) and was used to derive maps of allele-specific secondary anchor requirements for each position. See TABLE 143.
  • Summaries of the extended motifs obtained for peptides which binds to each HLA protein of the A3 supertype examined are shown in FIG. 39.
  • As depicted in FIG. 39, each protein exhibited its own unique secondary anchor requirements. For example, positively charged residues (R, H, K) at position 4 were preferred by the A3 allele, but not by any other A3 supertype molecule. Similarly at position 8, glycine (G) was associated with poor binding capacity only for A11, whereas negative charges (D, E) were deleterious only for A31. Besides these types of unique protein-specific features, certain residues were associated with either poor or good binding in a majority of the molecules of the A3 supertype. For example, proline (P) in position 1 was deleterious for all five of the A3 supertype molecules tested. Aromatic residues (F, W, Y) in position 7 and proline in position 8 were preferred by four of the five molecules tested (FIG. 39).
  • A similar analysis was performed for each allele (A3, A11, A31, A*3301) and was used to derive maps of allele-specific secondary anchor requirements for each position (TABLE 140). Summaries of the modified motifs obtained for each allele of the A3-like supertype examined are shown in FIG. 39. Each molecule exhibited its own unique secondary anchor requirements. For example, positively charged residues(R, H, K) at position 4 were preferred by A3, but not by any other A3-like molecule. Similarly at position 8, glycine (G) was associated with poor binding capacity only for A11, whereas negative charges (D, E) were deleterious only for A31. Besides these types of unique allele-specific features, certain residues were associated with either poor or good binding in a majority of the molecules of the A3 supertype. For example, proline (P) in position 1 was deleterious for all five of the A3-like molecules tested. Aromatic residues (F, W, Y) in position 7 and proline in position 8 were preferred by four of the five molecules tested (FIG. 39).
  • On the basis of the various individual extended motifs, an extended A3 supermotif was constructed. Residues deleterious for at least three of the five alleles considered were defined as “deleterious residues” in the supermotif. Conversely, residues preferred by at least three of the five alleles considered, but also not deleterious for any allele, were defined as “preferred residues.” The extended A3 supermotif derived following this approach is shown in FIG. 40.
  • Efficacy of the A3-Extended Supermotif in Predicting Highly Cross-Reactive Peptides. To test the validity of the extended A3 supermotif defined above, an additional set of 108 peptides not previously included in the analysis of supermotifs was tested for binding to HLA molecules encoded by A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801 alleles. This set included 30 peptides which had at least one preferred supermotif residue and no supermotif deleterious residues, 43 peptides with at least one supermotif deleterious residue (supermotif negative), and 35 peptides with neither supermotif preferred nor deleterious residues (supermotif neutral).
  • Of the 30 supermotif positive peptides, 27 (90%) bound to two or more molecules within the A3 supertype and 16 (53%) bound to three or more molecules. By contrast, 18 (51%) of 35 extended supermotif neutral peptides bound two or more A3 types, and eight (23%) bound three or more molecules. Finally, the supermotif negative peptides were much less capable of binding multiple alleles, with six (14%) peptides binding two A3 supertype molecules, and no peptides binding three or more molecules.
  • These results are qualitatively similar to those obtained when the original set of peptides used to define the primary anchor residues in the supermotifs was subjected to the same type of analysis, and are in striking contrast with the level of cross-reactivity observed in the case of the previously mentioned binding of a control set of peptides to unrelated HLA proteins, in which only a few peptides (8%) bound to a protein other than their intended original protein.
  • Calculation of phenotypic frequencies of HLA supertypes in various ethnic backgrounds and projected population coverage. Gene frequencies for each HLA allele were calculated from antigen or allele frequencies in accordance with principles in the art (see e.g. Imanishi, et al., Proc. of the Eleventh International Histocompatibility Workshop and Conference, Vol. 1, Tokyo, Oxford University Press (1992) and Fernandez-Viña, et al., Hum. Immunol. 33:163 (1992)) utilizing the binomial distribution formula:

  • gf=1−(SQRT(1−af))
  • (Tiwari, et al., The HLA complex, In HLA AND DISEASE ASSOCIATES, NY, Springer-Verlag (1985)).
  • To obtain overall phenotypic frequencies, cumulative gene frequencies were calculated and the cumulative antigen frequencies derived by the use of the inverse formula:

  • af=1−(1−Cgf)2
  • As discussed below, where frequency data was not available at the level of DNA typing, correspondence to the serologically defined antigen frequencies was assumed. To obtain total population coverage no linkage disequilibrium was assumed and only alleles confirmed as belonging to each of the supertypes were included (minimal estimates). Estimates of total coverage achieved by interloci combinations were made by adding to the A coverage the proportion of the non-A covered population that could be expected to be covered by the B alleles considered (e.g., total=A+B*(1−A)).
  • Confirmed members of the A3 supertype are A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801. Although the A3 supertype may potentially include A32, A66, and A*7401, these alleles were not included in overall frequency calculations.
  • High Phenotypic Frequencies of HLA Supertypes are Conserved in All Major Ethnic Groups. Thus, to evaluate HLA supertypes in general, and the A3 supertype in particular, the incidence of various HLA class I alleles or antigens was examined. To date, much of the available HLA-A and -B population data are based on serologic typing. These data do not have resolution at the level of alleles as defined by DNA sequences, and thus do not distinguish between subtypes. However, comparison of the peptide-binding specificities of subtypes, either through peptide-binding studies (del Guercio, et al., J. Immunol. 154:685 (1995); Tanigaki, et al., Hum. Immunol. 39:155 (1994)), pool sequencing analysis (Fleischer, et al., Tissue Antigens 44:311 (1994); Rotzschke, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 22:2453 (1992)), or analysis of pocket structure based on primary sequence, suggest that in most instances subtypes will have very similar, if not identical, peptide main anchor specificities. Thus in the following analysis, if population data at the DNA subtype level were not available, but either binding data, published motifs, or sequence analysis suggested that subtypes will have overlapping peptide binding specificities, a one-to-one correspondence between subtype alleles and the serologically defined antigens was assumed.
  • When the incidence of the various A3 supertype alleles or antigens in different ethnic backgrounds was examined, it became apparent that while the frequency of each individual allele or antigen can vary drastically between ethnic groups (Imanishi, et al., Proceedings of the Eleventh International Histocompatibility Workshop and Conference, Vol. 1, Tokyo, Oxford University Press (1992)), the cumulative frequency of the five A3 supertype alleles, viewed collectively, is remarkably constant (between 37% to 53% depending on the ethnic population studied). For example, the individual A3 allele is common in Caucasians, African-Americans, and Hispanics, but almost absent in Japanese. Conversely, the A31 allele is frequent in Japanese but rare in Caucasians and African-Americans. By contrast, in each of the five populations examined, the A3 HLA supertype was present in at least 37%, and as high as 53%, of the individuals.
  • Notably, the existence of an A3 HLA supertype is not an isolated incident, as the existence of A2 (del Guercio, et al., J. Immunol. 154:685 (1995)) and B7 (Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995)) supertypes are reported. These additional supertypes are also very prominent, with remarkably constant cumulative frequencies (in the 40% to 60% range) amongst different ethnic backgrounds. These supertypes are discussed in greater detail in the following Examples. In fact, at the gene level, at least one half of the total copies of HLA-A or -B genes in existence appear to belong to one or another of these three HLA supertypes.
  • As pointed out in the Background section, the existence of an A3 HLA supertype is not an isolated incident, as the A2 supertype (del Guercio, et al., J. Immunol. 154:685 (1995)) and B7 supertype (Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995)) are reported. These A2 and B7 supertypes are also very prominent, with remarkably constant cumulative frequencies (in the 40% to 60% range) amongst different ethnic backgrounds. In fact, at the gene level, at least one half of the total copies of HLA-A or -B genes in existence appear to belong to one or another of these three HLA supertypes.
  • T Cell Recognition of Supermotif Peptides When Bound by HLA Molecules. To better gauge the biologic relevance of these observations, we investigated whether supertype cross-reactive peptides are recognized by CTLs, when the peptides are bound by various supertype molecules. Two peptides have been reported as being recognized by CTLs in the context of more than one A3 supertype allele [see, e.g., Missale, et al, J. Exp. Med. 177:751 (1993); Koenig, et al, J Immunol 145:127 (1990); Culmann, et al, J. Immunol. 146:1560 (1991)] (see Table 145). Using a method for in vitro induction of primary CTLs [Wentworth, et al, Mol. Immunol. 32:603 (1995)] we observed several instances in which peptides can be recognized in the context of both A3 and A11 [P. Wentworth and A. Sette, unpublished observations] (see TABLE 145). We tested the A3 supermotif epitopes for binding capacity to A3 supertype molecules, and noted relatively high levels of degeneracy.
  • Of the seven epitopes listed in TABLE 145, only one was a nonamer that could be analyzed for the extended supermotif proposed in FIG. 40 (the secondary anchors are presently understood to be unique to a given epitope length). The sole nonamer peptide was supermotif positive, and bound three of five A3-like molecules. Nonetheless, it is important to note that each of the epitopes in TABLE 145 conformed to the A3-like supertype primary anchor specifications.
  • Identification of A3 Supermotif-Bearing Epitopes in a Peptide Antigen. A native protein sequence, e.g., a tumor-associated antigen, an infectious organism or a donated tissue, is screened to identify sequences that bear the A3 supermotif. In a presently preferred embodiment, the native sequence is screened using computer-based programs; such programs are written in accordance with procedures known in the art based on the A3 supermotif definition disclosed herein. The information gleaned from this analysis is used directly to evaluate the status of the native peptide, or may be utilized to subsequently generate the peptide epitope.
  • The information gleaned from analysis of a native peptide can be used directly to ascertain a number of characteristics. The characteristics to be ascertained will depend, as appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, on the type of native peptide. For example, a donor tissue for potential transplantation into a patient who bears an HLA allele of the A3 supertype can be screened to identify the prevalence of A3 supermotif epitopes in a target antigen that has been observed to be immunogenic post-transplantation; if alternative donor tissues are available, the tissue having the lowest prevalence of A3 supermotif epitopes would be chosen based on this parameter. If an infectious organism has more than one strain, an A3 epitope can be located in one strain, and then other strains of the same organism can be evaluated to determine the conservancy of that epitope throughout the strains. A given infectious organism can be evaluated sequentially; e.g., an epitope from a viral organism can be evaluated in an initial screening, and its presence tracked over time to determine if that epitope is being mutated. If a therapeutic response has been directed to the epitope this mutagenic phenomenon is referred to as viral escape and methods of identification of epitopes can be used to track this phenomenon. If a therapeutic composition is designed to be directed to an epitope, non-diseased tissues from the potential recipient can be biopsied and evaluated to determine whether the composition has potential for inducing as adverse autoimmune-type response in the recipient. Furthermore, upon identification of an epitope in a native peptide, that epitope sequence can be evaluated in accordance with the analoging disclosures presented herein and in applications from which priority is claimed.
  • Upon identification of an epitope in a native peptide, that epitope can be synthesized by any number of procedures in the art. The epitope can be synthesized directly, such as by chemical means, or indirectly such as by use of nucleic acids that encode the epitope. The synthesized epitope can be used to induce a therapeutic or prophylactic immune response in a recipient.
  • Selection of A3 Supertype Epitopes For Inclusion in a Disease-Specific Vaccine. This example illustrates the procedure for the selection of A3 peptide epitopes for a vaccine composition of the invention.
  • The following principles are utilized when selecting an array of epitopes from a particular disease-related antigen, whether the epitopes are discrete in a composition, are embedded or overlapping in a native sequence, and/or to be encoded by a minigene. Such embodiments are used to create a vaccine to prophylax or treat the disease in patients who bear an HLA allele from the A3 supertype. Each of the following principles are balanced in order to make the selection.
  • 1.) Epitopes are selected which, upon administration, mimic immune responses that have been observed to be correlated with disease clearance. For HLA Class I this includes, as an example, 3-4 epitopes that come from at least one antigen of a disease causing organism or cancer-associated antigen. In other words, this comports with a scenario where it has been observed that in patients who spontaneously clear the disease, that they had generated an immune response to at least 3 epitopes on at least one disease antigen. For HLA Class II a similar rationale is employed; again 3-4 epitopes are selected from at least one disease antigen.
  • 2.) Epitopes are selected that have the requisite binding affinity established to be correlated with immunogenicity: for HLA Class I an IC50 of 500 nM or less, or for Class II an IC50 of 1000 nM or less.
  • 3.) In this example A3 epitopes are employed that provide population coverage among patients who bear an A3 supertype allele. The following example discusses selection of epitopes to achieve even broader coverage.
  • When selecting epitopes for disease-related antigens it can be preferable to select native epitopes; although not always the case a patient may have developed tolerance to tumor-associated antigens, whereby analogs of native epitopes may be useful, analogs are also useful for infectious disease antigens.
  • Therefore, of relevance as a vaccine, particularly for infectious disease vaccines, are epitopes referred to as “nested epitopes.” Nested epitopes occur where at least two epitopes overlap in a given peptide sequence. A peptide comprising “transcendent nested epitopes” is a peptide that has both HLA class I and HLA class II epitopes in it.
  • When providing nested epitopes, a sequence that has the greatest number of epitopes per provided sequence is provided. A correlate to this principle is to avoid providing a peptide that is any longer than the amino terminus of the amino-terminal epitope and the carboxyl terminus of the carboxyl-terminal epitope in the peptide. When providing a longer peptide sequence, such as a sequence comprising nested epitopes, the sequence is screened in order to insure that it does not have pathological or other deleterious biological properties.
  • 5.) When creating a minigene, as disclosed in greater detail in other Examples, an objective is to generate the smallest peptide possible that encompasses the epitopes of interest. The principles employed are similar, if not the same as those employed when selecting a peptide comprising nested epitopes. Thus, upon determination of the nucleic acid sequence to be provided as a minigene, the peptide encoded thereby is analyzed to determine whether any “junctional epitopes” have been created. A junctional epitope is an actual binding epitope, as predicted, e.g., by motif analysis. Junctional epitopes are to be avoided because the recipient may generate an immune response to that epitope, i.e., an epitope not found in the native disease-related antigen. Of particular concern is a junctional epitope that is a “dominant epitope.” A dominant epitope may lead to such a zealous response that immune responses to other epitopes are diminished or suppressed.
  • A vaccine composition comprised of selected peptides, when administered, is safe, efficacious, and elicits an immune response similar in magnitude of an immune response that clears an acute HBV infection.
  • Selection of A3 Supertype Epitopes and Additional HLA Epitopes, to Achieve Broadened Population Coverage in a Disease-Specific Vaccine. This example exemplifies the procedures to use to prepare a vaccine that covers a patient population that bears an A3 supertype as well as one or more patient population(s) that bear another HLA type or HLA supertype. To select such an array of epitope, a protocol such as set forth in Example 14 is employed, with the exception of a variation at parameter 3.) of that example.
  • In order to achieve population coverage beyond a population that bears A3 supertype alleles, A3 supermotif peptides along with peptides that bear another supermotif, or a sufficient array of allele-specific motif bearing peptides, are selected to give broadened population coverage. For example, epitopes are selected to provide at least 80% population coverage. A Monte Carlo analysis, a statistical evaluation known in the art, is employed to assess population coverage. Upon combining epitopes from, e.g., several supertypes a vaccine directed to a disease has more than 98% population coverage for 5 prevalent worldwide ethnic groups.
  • A Polyepitopic Vaccine Composition Derived From A Disease-Associated Peptide Antigen. A native protein sequence, e.g., a tumor associated antigen or an infectious organism, is screened, preferably using computer programs defined to identify the presence of epitopes bearing the A3 supermotif, and optionally epitope(s) bearing one or more HLA class I and/or class II supermotif or motif, to identify “relatively short” regions of the polyprotein that comprise multiple epitopes. This relatively short sequence that contains multiple distinct, even overlapping, epitopes is selected and used to generate a minigene construct or for peptide synthesis. The minigene construct is engineered to express the peptide, which corresponds to the native protein sequence. The “relatively short” peptide is less than 100 amino acids in length, preferably less than 75 amino acids in length, and more preferably less than 50 amino acids in length. The protein sequence of the vaccine composition is selected because it has maximal number of epitopes contained within the sequence. As noted herein, epitope motifs may be overlapping (i.e., frame shifted relative to one another) with frame shifted overlapping epitopes, e.g. two 9-mer epitopes can be present in a 10 amino acid peptide. Such a vaccine composition is administered for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes.
  • The vaccine composition will preferably include, for example, three CTL epitopes, at least one of which is an A3 supermotif epitope, and at least one HTL epitope from the source antigen. This polyepitopic native sequence is administered either as a peptide or as a nucleic acid sequence which encodes the peptide. Alternatively, an analog can be made of this native sequence.
  • The embodiment of this example provides for the possibility that an as yet undiscovered aspect of immune system processing will apply to the native nested sequence and thereby facilitate the production of therapeutic or prophylactic immune response-inducing vaccine compositions. Additionally such an embodiment provides for the possibility of motif-bearing epitopes for an HLA makeup that is presently unknown. Furthermore, this embodiment directs the immune response to sequences that are present in native HBV antigens. Lastly, the embodiment provides an economy of scale when producing nucleic acid vaccine compositions.
  • Related to this embodiment, computer programs are used which identify, in a target sequence, the greatest number of epitopes per sequence length.
  • Polyepitopic Vaccine Compositions Directed To Multiple Diseases. Peptide epitopes bearing the A3 supermotif from a first disease-related source are used in conjunction with A3 supermotif-bearing peptide epitopes from target antigens related to one or more other diseases, to create a vaccine composition that is used to prevent or treat a first disease as well as at least one other disease. Examples of infectious diseases include, but are not limited to, HIV, HBV, HCV, and HPV; examples of cancer-related antigens are CEA, HER2, MAGE and p53.
  • In a preferred embodiment, not only are two or more diseases targeted, but epitope(s) that bear the A3 supermotif and at least one other motif are comprised by the composition. In this preferred embodiment, the composition is used to treat multiple diseases across a genetically diverse HLA patient population.
  • For example, a polyepitopic peptide composition comprising multiple CTL and HTL epitopes that target greater than 98% of the population may be created for administration to individuals at risk for both HBV and HIV infection. The composition can be provided as a single polypeptide that incorporates the multiple epitopes from the various disease-associated sources.
  • Use Of Peptides To Evaluate An Immune Response. Peptides of the invention may be used to analyze an immune response for the presence of specific CTL populations corresponding to HBV from patients whom possess an HLA allele in the A3 supertype. Such an analysis may be performed as described by Ogg et al., Science 279:2103-2106, 1998. In the following example, peptides in accordance with the invention are used as a reagent for diagnostic or prognostic purposes, not as an immunogen.
  • In this example highly sensitive human leukocyte antigen tetrameric complexes (“tetramers”) may be used for a cross-sectional analysis of, for example, HBV Env-specific CTL frequencies from untreated HLA A3 supertype-positive individuals at different stages of infection using an HBV Env peptide containing an A2.1 extended motif. Tetrameric complexes are synthesized as described (Musey et al., N. Engl. J. Med. 337:1267, 1997). Briefly, purified heavy chain from an HLA molecule from the A3 supertype, and β2-microglobulin are synthesized by means of a prokaryotic expression system. The heavy chain is modified by deletion of the transmembrane-cytosolic tail and COOH-terminal addition of a sequence containing a BirA enzymatic biotinylation site. The heavy chain, β2-microglobulin, and peptide are refolded by dilution. The 45-kD refolded product is isolated by fast protein liquid chromatography and then biotinylated by BirA in the presence of biotin (Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.), adenosine 5′triphosphate and magnesium. Streptavidin-phycoerythrin conjugate is added in a 1:4 molar ratio, and the tetrameric product is concentrated to 1 mg/ml. The resulting product is referred to as tetramer-phycoerythrin.
  • Approximately one million PBMCs are centrifuged at 300 g for 5 minutes and resuspended in 50 ul of cold phosphate-buffered saline. Tri-color analysis is performed with the tetramer-phycoerythrin, along with anti-CD8-Tricolor, and anti-CD38. The PBMCs are incubated with tetramer and antibodies on ice for 30 to 60 min and then washed twice before formaldehyde fixation. Gates are applied to contain >99.98% of control samples. Controls for the tetramers include both A3 supertype-negative individuals and A3 supertype-positive uninfected donors. The percentage of cells stained with the tetramer is then determined by flow cytometry. The results indicate the number of cells in the PBMC sample that contain epitope-restricted CTLs, thereby readily indicating the stage of infection with HBV or the status of exposure to HBV or to a vaccine that elicits a protective response.
  • Use Of Peptide Epitopes To Evaluate Recall Responses. The peptide epitopes of the invention are used as reagents to evaluate T cell responses such as acute or recall responses, in patients whom bear an allele from the HLA A3 supertype. Such an analysis may be performed on patients who have recovered from infection, who are chronically infected with the disease, or who have been vaccinated with a disease-protective vaccine.
  • For example to evaluate HBV immune status, the class I restricted CTL response of persons at risk for HBV infection who have been vaccinated may be analyzed. The vaccine may be any HBV vaccine. PBMC are collected from vaccinated individuals and HLA typed. Appropriate peptide reagents that are both highly conserved and, bear the A3 supermotif to provide cross-reactivity with multiple HLA A3 supertype family members are then used for analysis of samples derived from individuals who bear the HLA supertype.
  • PBMC from vaccinated individuals are separated on Ficoll-Histopaque density gradients (Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, Mo.), washed three times in HBSS (GIBCO Laboratories), resuspended in RPMI-1640 (GIBCO Laboratories) supplemented with L-glutamine (2 mM), penicillin (50 U/ml), streptomycin (50 μg/ml), and Hepes (10 mM) containing 10% heat-inactivated human AB serum (complete RPMI) and plated using microculture formats. Synthetic peptide is added at 10 μg/ml to each well and recombinant HBc Ag is added at 1 μg/ml to each well as a source of T cell help during the first week of stimulation.
  • In the microculture format, 4×105 PBMC are stimulated with peptide in 8 replicate cultures in 96-well round bottom plate in 100 μl/well of complete RPMI. On days 3 and 10, 100 ml of complete RPMI and 20 U/ml final concentration of rIL-2 are added to each well. On day 7 the cultures are transferred into a 96-well flat-bottom plate and restimulated with peptide, rIL-2 and 105 irradiated (3,000 rad) autologous feeder cells. The cultures are tested for cytotoxic activity on day 14. A positive CTL response requires two or more of the eight replicate cultures to display greater than 10% specific 51Cr release, based on comparison with uninfected control subjects as previously described (Rehermann, et al., Nature Med. 2:1104,1108, 1996; Rehermann et al., J. Clin. Invest. 97:1655-65, 1996; and Rehermann et al. J. Clin. Invest. 98:1432-40, 1996).
  • Target cell lines are autologous and allogeneic EBV-transformed B-LCL that are either purchased from the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI, Boston, Mass.) or established from the pool of patients as described (Guilhot, et al. J. Virol. 66:2670-78, 1992).
  • Cytotoxicity assays are performed in the following manner. Target cells consist of either allogeneic HLA-matched or autologous EBV-transformed B lymphoblastoid cell line that are incubated overnight with synthetic peptide at 10 μM and labeled with 100 μCi of 51Cr (Amersham Corp., Arlington Heights, Ill.) for 1 hour after which they are washed four times with HBSS. Cytolytic activity is determined in a standard 4-h, split well 51Cr release assay using U-bottomed 96 well plates containing 3,000 targets/well. Stimulated PBMC are tested at E/T ratios of 20-50:1 on day 14. Percent cytotoxicity is determined from the formula: 100×[(experimental release-spontaneous release)/maximum release-spontaneous release)]. Maximum release is determined by lysis of targets by detergent (2% Triton X-100; Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, Mo.). Spontaneous release is <25% of maximum release for all experiments.
  • The results of such an analysis will indicate to what extent HLA-restricted CTL populations have been stimulated with the vaccine. Of course, this protocol can also be used to monitor prior HBV exposure.
  • The above examples are provided to illustrate the invention but not to limit its scope. For example, the human terminology for the Major Histocompatibility Complex, namely HLA, is used throughout this document. It is to be appreciated that these principles can be extended to other species as well. Moreover, peptide epitopes have been disclosed in the related application U.S. Ser. No. 08/820,360, which was previously incorporated by reference. Thus, other variants of the invention will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art and are encompassed by the appended claims. All publications, patents, and patent application cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes.
  • HLA Binding of Supermotifs and Extended Supermotifs. The A3 supertype restricted epitopes were tested for binding capacity to A3 supertype molecules, and relatively high levels of cross-reactivity were noted. Of the seven epitopes listed in TABLE 145, only one was a nonamer that could be analyzed for the supermotif proposed in FIG. 40. This peptide was supermotif positive, and bound three of five A3 molecules. Nonetheless, it is important that each of the epitopes conformed to the A3 supertype primary anchor specificities.
  • The phenomena of HLA super types may be related to optimal exploitation of the peptide specificity of human transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) molecules (Androlewicz, et al., Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:9130 (1993); Androlewicz, et al., Immunity 1:7 (1994); van Endert, et al., Immunity 1:491 (1994); Heemels, et al., Immunity 1:775 (1994); Momburg, et al., Curr. Opin. Immunol. 6:32 (1994); Neefjes, et al., Science 261:769 (1993)). The TAP molecules have been shown to preferentially transport peptides with certain sequence features such as hydrophobic, aromatic, or positively charged C-termini.
  • Recent studies, performed by van Endert and associates, in collaboration with the present inventors, evaluated the relative affinities for TAP of a large collection of peptides, and have described an extended TAP binding motif (Van Endert et al. J. Exp. Med. 182:1883 (1995)) Strikingly, this tap motif contains many of the structural features associated with the A3 extended supermotif, such as the preference for aromatic residues at positions 3 and 7 of nonamer peptides and the absence of negatively charged residues at positions 1 and 3, and P at position 1.
  • HLA A3 Supertype Findings
  • The data from this Example demonstrate that products from at least five different HLA alleles (A3, A11, A31, A*3301, and A*6801), and likely at least three others (A*3401, A*6601, and A*7401) predicted on the basis of pocket analysis (data not shown), are properly grouped into a single functional HLA A3 supertype. This determination was made on the basis of a number of observations. As a group, these molecules: (a) share certain key structural features within their peptide-binding regions; (b) have similar preferences for the primary anchor residues in the peptides they bind, i.e., a primary supermotif present in the peptides bound by the HLA molecules of the superfamily; and (c) share largely overlapping binding repertoires. Knowledge of the A3 supermotif allows for identification of a cross-reactive peptide for a source, and allows for production of peptide analogs by substituting at primary anchor positions to alter the binding properties of the peptides.
  • Furthermore, by examining the binding activity of a large panel of peptides bearing the primary A3 supermotif, an extended A3 supermotif was defined. This extended supermotif was based on a detailed map of the secondary anchor requirements for binding to molecules of the A3 supertype. The extended supermotif allows for the efficient prediction of cross-reactive binding of peptides to alleles of the A3 supertype by screening the native sequence of a particular antigen. This extended supermotif is also used to select analog options for peptides which bear amino acids defined by the primary supermotif.
  • The discovery of the individual residues of the secondary anchor motif disclosed herein represents a significant contribution to the understanding of peptide binding to class I molecules. These secondary anchor maps were derived using peptides of homogeneous size. Thus, the preference determinations at each of the secondary positions may be more accurate than those derived from the sequencing of pools of naturally processed peptides. Also, the motifs defined herein allow the determination of residues which have deleterious or other types of effects on peptide binding.
  • The definition of primary and secondary anchor specificities for the A3 supertype provides guidance for modulating the binding activity of peptides that bind to members of the A3 supertype family. This information may be used to generate highly cross-reactive epitopes by identifying residues within a native peptide sequence that can be analogued to increase greater binding cross-reactivity within a supertype, or analogued to increase immunogenicity.
  • Example 18 Definition of HLA-A1-Specific Peptide Motifs
  • HLA-A1 molecules were isolated and their naturally processed peptides characterized, as described in Example 3 above. In one case using MAT cells, pooled fractions corresponding to 19% to 50% CH3CN were used. As in the preceding example, residues showing at any given position except the first position, at least a two standard deviation increase over the random expected yield were identified and shown in TABLE 74. On the basis of these data, only Serine (S) and Threonine (T) were increased at position two. At position 3, aspartic acid (D) and glutamic acid (E) were elevated and at position 9 and 10 tyrosine (Y) showed a marked increase. Other increases noted were proline (P) at position 4 and leucine (L) at position 7. Therefore, the motifs for HLA-A1 based on these data would have residues at position 2 occupied by S or T, a peptide length of 9 or 10 amino acids and a C-terminal residue of Y. Alternatively, another motif would comprise a D or E at position 3 together with a C terminal residue of Y.
  • Example 19 Definition of HLA-A11-Specific Peptide Motifs
  • HLA-A11 motifs were defined by amino acid sequence analysis of pooled HPLC fractions, in one case corresponding to 7% to 45% CH3CN of fractionated peptides eluted from HLA-A11 molecules purified from the cell line BVR. On the basis of the data presented in TABLE 75, a motif for A11 consists of a conserved residue at position 2 of threonine (T) or valine (V), a peptide length of 9 or 10 amino acids, and a C-terminal conserved residue of lysine (K). At position 3 increases in methionine (M) and phenylalanine (F) were also seen and at position 8 glutamine (Q) was increased.
  • Example 20 Definition of HLA-A24.1-Specific Peptide Motifs
  • HLA-A24.1 allele-specific motifs were defined by amino acid sequence analysis of pooled fractions in one case corresponding to 7% to 19% CH3CN of HPLC fractionated peptides eluted from HLA-A24.1 molecules purified from the cell line KT3. On the basis of the data presented in TABLE 76 a motif for HLA-A24.1 consists of a conserved residue at position 2 occupied by tyrosine (Y), a peptide length of 9 or 10 amino acids, and a C-terminal conserved residue of phenylalanine (F) or leucine (L). Increases were also observed at several other positions: isoleucine (I) and methonine (M) at position 3; aspartic acid (D), glutamic acid (E), glycine (G), lysine (K) and proline (P) at position 4; lysine (K), methonine (M) and asparagine (N) at position 5; valine (V) at position 6; asparagine (N) and valine (V) at position 7; and, alanine (A), glutamic acid (E), lysine (K), glutamine (Q) and serine (S) at position 8.
  • Example 21 B7Supertype Binding
  • Data indicated (Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154, 247 (1995); Hill, et al., Nature 360:434 (1992); Falk, et al., Immunogenetics 38:161 (1993); Barber, et al., Curr. Biol. 5:179 (1995); Schonbach, et al. J. Immunol. 154:5951 (1995)) that there is a relatively large family of HLA B specificities, collectively defined as the B7 supertype. In this Example the molecular binding assays as described in Example 1 are used to examine, in detail, the primary anchor specificities (position 2 and C-terminus) of the five most frequent B7 supertype HLA alleles (B*0702, B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401). The B7 supermotif was found to be characterized by peptides that have a P in position 2, and a hydrophobic or aromatic residue at the C-terminus (referred to as the B7 supermotif).
  • Characterization of the primary anchor specificity of B7 supertype alleles was performed utilizing a panel of single substitution analogs of the HIV nef 84-92 peptide (sequence FPVRPQVPL (SEQ ID NO:______). HIV nef 84-92 binds HLA molecules encoded by the B*0702, B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401 alleles with either high (IC50≦50 nM) or intermediate (IC50 50-500 nM) affinity.
  • It was found that all five B7 supertype molecules share a rather stringent position 2 specificity for proline. With only one exception (A in the case of B*3501), all of the substitutions eliminating P at position 2 were associated with greater than 10-fold decreases in binding affinity as compared to the parent peptide. By contrast, each HLA-B type expressed a rather unique specificity pattern at the C-terminus. For example, B*0702 preferred M, F and L, while B 5101 preferred L, I, and V. Despite these differences, the overall C-terminal specificity patterns exhibited a large degree of overlap. All alleles shared a specificity for residues of a hydrophobic chemical nature. The aliphatic residues I and V were preferred by at least four of the five molecules, and A, L, M, F, and W were preferred or tolerated in a majority of instances. Other residues, such as Y or T, were tolerated in only isolated instances, while some (e.g., K or D) were not tolerated at all.
  • This primary anchor specificity data is in agreement with data of Sidney, et al., J. Immunol. 154:247 (1995). Thus, peptides capable of cross-reactive B7 supertype binding should have proline in position 2 and a hydrophobic or aromatic (V, I, L, M, F, W, A) residue at their C-terminus. In formally defining the B7 supertype primary anchor motifs, Y has been conservatively included despite its relative lack of cross-reactivity, because Y constitutes the dominant signal in pool sequencing analyses of B*3501 (Hill, et al., Nature 360:434 (1992); Falk, et al., Immunogenetics 38:161 (1993), Schonbach, et al. J. Immunol. 154:5951 (1995)). In summary, the primary anchor motif of the B7 supertype is defined as P at position 2, and A, I, L, M, V, F, W, and Y at the C-terminus.
  • Preferred Amino Acid Length of Ligands Bound by the B 7 Supertype HLA Molecules. Class I molecules usually prefer peptides between 8 and 10 residues in length (Falk, et al., Nature 351:290 (1991)), although longer peptides have been shown to bind (Massale, et al., J. Exp. Med. 177:751 (1993); Chen, et al., J. Immunol. 152:2874 (1994); Collins, et al. Nature 371:626 (1994)). To determine the optimal peptide length for binding to molecules of the B7 supertype, panels of 8-, 9-, 10- and 11-mer peptides representing naturally occurring viral, tumor, or bacterial sequences, (each peptide bore the B7 primary anchor supermotif) were synthesized and tested in binding assays.
  • It was concluded that 9 amino acid residues represent the optimal peptide length for all of the B7 supertype molecules examined. This assessment was true both in terms of the percent of peptides of each size bound by any molecule, but also in terms of the degree of crossreactivity observed (data not shown). Thus, this information is relevant when preparing analogs that are longer or shorter than a starting native peptide.
  • Extended Supermotif (Secondary Anchor Motifs) of Peptides that bind B7 Supertype HLA Molecules. Other residues can act as secondary anchors, thus providing supplemental binding energy to the peptides (Ruppert, et al, Cell 74:929-37 (1993); Madden, et al. Cell 75, 693-708 (1993); Saito, et al., J. Biol. Chem. 268, 21309 (1993); Sidney, et al., Hu. Immunol. 45, 79-93 (1996); Kondo, et al, J. Immunol. 155:4307-12 (1995); Parker, et al., J. Immunol. 152, 163-75 (1994)). It has also been shown that certain residues can have negative effects on peptide binding to class I molecules (Ruppert, et al, Cell 74:929-37 (1993); Sidney, et al., Hu. Immunol., 45, 79-93 (1996); Kondo, et al, J. Immunol. 155:4307-12 (1995), Boehncke, et al., J. Immunol. 150, 331-41 (1993)).
  • To develop an extended B7 supermotif allowing the efficient selection of peptides with cross-reactive B7 supertype binding, secondary anchors and secondary effects involved in peptide binding to B7 supertype molecules were defined in accordance with the methods described herein.
  • The binding capacity of 199 nonamer peptides for the five most common B7 supertype molecules, B*0702, B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401 was determined, and the data analyzed. The 199 nonamer peptides represented naturally occurring viral sequences containing the B7 supertype primary anchors (proline in position 2, and A, V, I, L, M, F, and W at the C-terminus). For each position the average relative binding capacity (ARBC) of peptides carrying each of the 20 amino acids was calculated and compared to the ARBC of the entire peptide set. The occurrence of certain amino acids is very infrequent, thus, residues were grouped according to individual chemical similarities as previously described (Ruppert, et al, Cell 74:929 (1993)). This analysis was performed separately for B*0702, B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401.
  • It was found that the patterns of preferences and aversions, in terms of secondary anchors, exhibited by each molecule were unique. For example, in the panel tested, 18 peptides had positively charged residues (R, H or K) in position 1. These peptides, as a group, were very good B*0702 binders, having an ARBC of 21. For B51, however, the same peptides were relatively poor binders, with an ARBC of 0.25. However, profound similarities in preferences were noted. For example, peptides bearing aromatic residues (F, W, and Y) in position one were, as a group, very good binders across the set of B7 supertype molecules, with ARBC of 4.2, 17, 16, 20, and 70 for B*0702, B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401, respectively.
  • The values discussed above were subsequently used to derive maps of allele-specific secondary anchor requirements for each position. To do this, preferred and deleterious residues were defined as residues associated with ARBCs that were 3-fold greater than, or 3-fold less than, respectively, the overall average. These preferred and deleterious effects are summarized in FIG. 41. These secondary anchor maps reveal that while each molecule exhibited its own unique secondary anchor requirements, certain features were highly conserved amongst the B7 supertype molecules. For example, as indicated above, aromatic residues (F, W, and Y) at position 1 were preferred by all five of the B7 supertype molecules. Conversely, at position 8, acidic residues (D, E) were associated with poor binding capacity for four of five molecules.
  • Secondary effects preferred by three or more of the five B7 supertype molecules considered, were defined as shared. Shared positive (preferred) effects were defined only if not deleterious for any molecule. Conversely shared deleterious effects could not be positive for any molecule. These shared features were incorporated into an extended B7 supermotif which defined residues associated with either poor or good binding in a majority of the molecules of the B7 supertype.
  • Following this rationale, it was found that peptides bearing supermotif preferred secondary residues exhibited a greater degree of B7 supertype cross-reactivity than those which bear none, or which bear deleterious residues. This finding was established by determining the binding cross-reactivity of an independent set of peptides bearing the B7 supertype primary anchor specificity. As predicted, peptides which were extended supermotif positive (i.e., peptides with at least one extended supermotif preferred secondary residues, and no deleterious residues) exhibited a substantially greater degree of crossreactivity within the B7 supertype than supermotif negative peptides (peptides with one or more supermotif deleterious residues).
  • Implementation of the B7Supermotif to Improve the Binding Capacity of Native Peptides by Creating Analogs. HLA supermotifs (both primary and extended) are of value in predicting highly cross-reactive native peptides, as demonstrated herein. Moreover, definition of HLA supermotifs also allows one to engineer highly crossreactive “degenerate” epitopes by identifying residues within a native peptide sequence which can be analogued, or “fixed”, to confer upon a peptide certain characteristics, e.g., greater binding cross-reactivity within the supertype.
  • To assess this possibility, six peptides which had been shown to have a high degree of degeneracy within the B7-like supertype were selected (TABLE 144). Each peptide already bound at least three of the five most common B7-like molecules with either high (IC50<50 nM) or intermediate (IC50 50-500 nM) affinities. These peptides were analyzed in the context of both the B7-like supermotif and the allele specific secondary anchor motifs described above to determine if particular residues within their sequences could be “fixed” to further increase their binding to the B7-like supertype molecules. This assessment found that none of the particular peptides considered contained a supermotif negative residue. Three peptides (HCV core 168, MAGE 2170, and MAGE 3 196) each had one residue which was deleterious for a single B7-like molecule (TABLE 144).
  • Next, a panel of single substituted analogs was synthesized. Some analogs contained secondary anchor substitutions which were either supermotif positive, or positive in the context of a particular allele without being deleterious for any other substitutions were selected on the basis of the values disclosed here. Because the preferences for the C-terminal primary anchors were unique for each allele, substitutions at this position were also considered. Thus, for example, to test if degeneracy could be increased a number of analogs were made by substituting the supermotif positive F for the native residue in position 1. Other substitutions, such as the C-terminal L for Y in HBV pol 541 were made to address poor binding of the parent peptide to B*0702 and B*5401. When this panel was tested for its binding capacity to molecules of the B7-like supertype, the data shown in TABLE 144 was generated. In every case, an F substitution in position one exhibited increased binding and/or degeneracy compared to the parent sequence. For example, MAGE 2 170 bound with high affinity to B*0702, intermediate affinity to B*3501, B51, and B*5301, but only weakly to B*5401. The F1 analog of this peptide bound all five of these molecules with high affinity.
  • The success of substitutions aimed at specific molecules were much harder to generalize. For example, the substitution of L at the C-terminus of HBV pol 541 for the native Y was successful in conferring binding to B*0702 while increasing the binding affinity to other molecules (significantly in the cases of B51 and B*5401). In other instances, the effect observed was not as anticipated, as demonstrated by the case of HBV env 313. This peptide bound with high affinity to B*0702, B*3501, B51, and B*5301, but only weakly to B*5401. An M in 5 analog was made to increase B*5401 binding based on the observation that the aliphatic residues (L, I, V, and M) in position 5 were positive for B*5401, and relatively neutral for other molecules. As shown in TABLE 144, however, the significantly increased B*5401 binding capacity achieved with the M5 analog was at the expense of lowered binding to B*0702, B51, and B*5301. While the success of individual analogs was variable, it is notable that for each case at least one analog was capable of either improving the binding affinity, or extending the degeneracy of the parent peptide. Thus, already degenerate peptides can be discretely “fixed” to improve their binding capacity and extend their degeneracy.
  • For example, analogs representing primary anchor single amino acid substitutions to I at the C-terminus of two different B7-like peptides (HBV env 313 and HB pol 541) were synthesized and tested for their B7-supertype binding capacity. It was found that the I substitution had an overall positive effect on binding affinity and/or cross-reactivity in both cases. In the case of HBV env 313 the 19 replacement was effective in increasing cross-reactivity from 4 to 5 alleles bound by virtue of an almost 400-fold increase B*5401 binding affinity. In the case of HBV pol 541, increased cross-reactivity was similarly achieved by a substantial increase in B*5401 binding. Also, significant gains in binding affinity for B*0702, B51, and B*5301 were observed with the HBV pol 541 I9 analog.
  • Thus, HLA supermotifs are of value in engineering highly cross-reactive peptides by identifying particular residues at secondary anchor positions that are associated with such cross-reactive properties. To demonstrate this, the capacity of a second set of peptides representing discreet single amino acid substitutions at positions one and three of five different B7-supertype binding peptides were synthesized and tested for their B-7 supertype binding capacity. In 4/4 cases the effect of replacing the native residue at position 1 with the aromatic residue F (an “F1” substitution) resulted in an increase in cross-reactivity, compared to the parent peptide, and, in most instances, binding affinity was increased three-fold or better (TABLE 146). More specifically, for HBV env 313, MAGE2 170, and HCV core 168 complete supertype cross-reactivity was achieved with the F1 substitution analogs. These gains were achieved by dramatically increasing B*5401 binding affinity. Also, gains in affinity were noted for other alleles in the cases of HCV core 168 (B*3501 and B*5301) and MAGE2 170 (B*3501, B51 and B*5301). Finally, in the case of MAGE3 196, the F1 replacement was effective in increasing cross-reactivity because of gains in B*0702 binding. An almost 70-fold increase in B51 binding capacity was also noted.
  • Two analogs were also made using the supermotif positive F substitution at position three (an “F3” substitution). In both instances increases in binding affinity and cross-reactivity were achieved. Specifically, in the case of HBV pol 541, the F3 substitution was effective in increasing cross-reactivity by virtue of its effect on B*5401 binding. In the case of MAGE3 196, complete supertype cross-reactivity was achieved by increasing B*0702 and B*3501 binding capacity. Also, in the case of MAGE3 196, it is notable that increases in binding capacity between 40 and 5000-fold were obtained for B*3501, B51, B*5301, and B*5401.
  • In conclusion, these data demonstrate that by the use of single amino acid substitutions it is possible to increase the binding affinity and/or cross-reactivity of peptide ligands for HLA B7 supertype molecules.
  • Example 22 Identification of Immunogenic Peptides
  • To identify peptides of the invention, class I antigen isolation, and isolation and sequencing of naturally processed peptides was carried out as described above and in the parent applications. These peptides were then used to define specific binding motifs for each of the following alleles A3.2, A1, A11, and A24.1. These motifs are described above. The motifs described in TABLE 73, TABLE 74, TABLE 75, and TABLE 76, below, are defined from pool sequencing data of naturally processed peptides as described in the related applications. These motifs are described in the parent applications and summarized in TABLE 73, TABLE 74, TABLE 75, and TABLE 76, below.
  • Using the motifs identified above for various MHC class I allele amino acid sequences from various pathogens and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Screening was carried out described in the related applications. TABLE 11 provides the results of searches of the antigens.
  • The peptides listed in TABLES 81-84 were identified as described above and are grouped according to pathogen or antigen from which they were derived.
  • Using the B7-like-supermotifs identified in the parent applications described above, sequences from potential antigenic sources including Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), MAGE2/3, and Plasmodium were analyzed for the presence of these motifs.
  • In some embodiments, sequences for the target antigens were obtained from the current GenBank data base. In certain embodiments, sequences for the target antigens were obtained from the GenBank database (Release No. 71.0; 3/92). The identification of motifs was done using the “FINDPATTERNS” program (Devereux, et al., Nucleic Acids Research, 12:387-95 (1984)). A computer search was carried out for antigen proteins comprising the B7-like-supermotif. TABLES 77-80, TABLES 81-84, and TABLES 85-86 provide the results of searches of the antigens. TABLES 77-80 and TABLES 85-86 shows results of screening a number of antigens. TABLES 81-84 shows results of screening MAGE antigens.
  • TABLE 25 and TABLE 34 list peptides identified in this search. Accordingly, a preferred embodiment of the invention comprises a composition comprising a peptide of TABLE 25 and/or TABLE 34.
  • Other viral and tumor-related proteins can also be analyzed for the presence of these motifs. The amino acid sequence or the nucleotide sequence encoding products is obtained from the GenBank database in the cases of Prostate Specific antigen (PSA), p53 oncogene, Epstein Barr Nuclear Antigen-1 (EBNA-1), and c-erb2 oncogene (also called HER-2/neu).
  • In the cases of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), p53 oncogene, Epstein Barr Nuclear Antigen-1 (EBNA-1), and c-erb2 oncogene (also called HER-2/neu), and Melanoma Antigen-1 (MAGE-1), a single sequence exists.
  • In the cases of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and Human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) several strains/isolates exist and many sequences have been placed in GenBank.
  • For HBV, binding motifs are identified for the adr, adw and ayw types. In order to avoid replication of identical sequences, all of the adr motifs and only those motifs from adw and ayw that are not present in adr are added to the list of peptides.
  • In the case of HCV, a consensus sequence from residue 1 to residue 782 is derived from 9 viral isolates. Motifs are identified on those regions that have no or very little (one residue) variation between the 9 isolates. The sequences of residues 783 to 3010 from 5 viral isolates were also analyzed. Motifs common to all the isolates are identified and added to the peptide list.
  • Finally, a consensus sequence for HIV type 1 for North American viral isolates (10-12 viruses) was obtained from the Los Alamos National Laboratory database (May 1991 release) and analyzed in order to identify motifs that are constant throughout most viral isolates. Motifs that bear a small degree of variation (one residue, in 2 forms) were also added to the peptide list.
  • Using the B7-like supermotifs identified in the related applications described above, sequences from various pathogens and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Screening was carried out described in the related applications. TABLES 12 and 13_provide the results of searches of the antigens.
  • Using the A3 supermotif described above, sequences from various pathogens and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Screening was carried out described in the related applications. TABLE 8 provides the results of searches of the antigens.
  • Using the A24 motif described above, sequences from various pathogens and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Screening was carried out described in the related applications. TABLE 9 provides the results of searches of t1 antigens.
  • Several motifs for each allele shown below were used to screen several antigens. Protein E6 of human papilloma virus (HPV) type 16 using motifs from all of the alleles disclosed above are shown (TABLES 77-80). Protein E7 of HPV type 18 was also searched for motifs from all alleles (TABLES 77-80) Melanoma antigens MAGE 1, 2 and 3 were searched for motifs from all alleles (TABLES 81-84). The antigen PSA was searched for motifs from all alleles (TABLES 85-86). Finally, core and envelope proteins from hepatitis C virus were also searched (TABLE 87). In the tables and the description of the motifs, the conventional symbol letter for each amino acid was used. The letter “X” represents a wild card character (any amino acid).
  • The following motifs were screened in the present search:
  • For HLA-A1 (A*0101)
    1 XSXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    2 XSXXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    3 XTXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    4 XTXXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    5 XXDXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    6 XXDXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    7 XXEXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    8 XXEXXXXXXY (SEQ ID NO:_)
    For HLA-A3.2 (A*0301)
    1 XVXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    2 XVXXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    3 XLXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    4 XLXXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    5 XMXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    6 XMXXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    For HLA-A11 (A*1101)
    1 XTXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    2 XTXXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    3 XVXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    4 XVXXXXXXXK (SEQ ID NO:_)
    For HLA-A24.1 (A*2401)
    1 XYXXXXXXF (SEQ ID NO:_)
    2 XYXXXXXXXF (SEQ ID NO:_)
    3 XYXXXXXXL (SEQ ID NO:_)
    4 XYXXXXXXXL (SEQ ID NO:_)
  • Brief Description of TABLES 9-21
  • TABLES 9 and 10. Identified HLA-AI allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues.
  • TABLE 11. Binding affinity of HLA-A1 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-A1 alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 12. Identified HLA-A2 allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues.
  • TABLE 13. Binding affinity of HLA-A2 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-A2 alleles (expressed as an ICso).
  • TABLE 14. Identified HLA-A3 allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-A3 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-A3 alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 15. Identified HLA-A24 allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-A24 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-A24 alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 16. Identified HLA-B7 allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-B7 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-B7 alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 17. Identified HLA-B44 allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-B44 binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-B44 alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 18. Identified HLA-DQ allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-DQ binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-DQ alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLES 19 and 186. Identified HLA-DR allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues. Binding affinity of HLA-DR binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated HLA-DR alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • TABLE 20. Identified murine MHC class I allele-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., number of amino acids in peptide (AA), origin of peptide (organism), identity of originating protein, position of peptide within protein sequence, and analog status, wherein an analog is a peptide of the invention where the amino acid sequence of any naturally-occurring peptide sequence has been modified by substitution of one or more amino acid residues.
  • TABLE 21. Binding affinity of muring MHC class I-binding peptides. Peptides are identified by amino acid sequence, SEQ ID NO., and binding affinity to the designated murine MHC class I alleles (expressed as an IC50).
  • Example 23 Additional Identification of Immunogenic Peptides
  • Using the motifs identified above for HLA-A2.1 allele amino acid sequences from a tumor-related protein, Melanoma Antigen-1 (MAGE-1), were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Sequences for the target antigen are obtained from the GenBank data base (Release No. 71.0; 3/92). The identification of motifs is done using the “FINDPATTERNS” program (Devereux et al., Nucleic Acids Research 12:387-395 (1984)).
  • Other viral and tumor-related proteins can also be analyzed for the presence of these motifs. The amino acid sequence or the nucleotide sequence encoding products is obtained from the GenBank database in the cases of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Prostate Specific antigen (PSA), p53 oncogene, Epstein Barr Nuclear Antigen-1 (EBNA-1), and c-erb2 oncogene (also called HER-2/neu).
  • In the cases of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) several strains/isolates exist and many sequences have been placed in GenBank.
  • For HBV, binding motifs are identified for the adr, adw and ayw types. In order to avoid replication of identical sequences, all of the adr motifs and only those motifs from adw and ayw that are not present in adr are added to the list of peptides.
  • In the case of HCV, a consensus sequence from residue 1 to residue 782 is derived from 9 viral isolates. Motifs are identified on those regions that have no or very little (one residue) variation between the 9 isolates. The sequences of residues 783 to 3010 from 5 viral isolates were also analyzed. Motifs common to all the isolates are identified and added to the peptide list.
  • Finally, a consensus sequence for HIV type 1 for North American viral isolates (10-12 viruses) was obtained from the Los Alamos National Laboratory database (May 1991 release) and analyzed in order to identify motifs that are constant throughout most viral isolates. Motifs that bear a small degree of variation (one residue, in 2 forms) were also added to the peptide list.
  • TABLES 181 and 182 provide the results of searches of the following antigens cERB2, EBNA1, HBV, HCV, HIV, HPV, MAGE, p53, and PSA. Only peptides with binding affinity of at least 1% as compared to the standard peptide in assays described in Example 5 are presented. Binding as compared to the standard peptide is shown in the far right column. The column labeled “Pos.” indicates the position in the antigenic protein at which the sequence occurs.
  • Using the motifs disclosed here, amino acid sequences from various antigens were screened for further motifs. Screening was carried out as described above. TABLES 176 and TABLE 177 provide the results of searches of the following antigens cERB2, CMV, Influenza A, HBV, HIV, HPV, MAGE, p53, PSA, Hu S3 ribosomal protein, LCMV, and PAP. Only peptides with binding affinity of at least 1% as compared to the standard peptide in assays described in Example 5 are presented. Binding as compared to the standard peptide is shown for each peptide.
  • Example 24 Identification of Immunogenic Peptides in Autoantigens
  • As noted above, the motifs of the present invention can also be screened in antigens associated with autoimmune diseases. Using the motifs identified above for HLA-A2.1 allele amino acid sequences from myelin proteolipid (PLP), myelin basic protein (MBP), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and human collagen types II and IV were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Sequences for the antigens were obtained from Trifilieff et al., C.R. Sceances Acad. Sci. 300:241 (1985); Eyler at al., J. Biol. Chem. 246:5770 (1971); Yamashita et al. Biochiem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 192:1347 (1993); Su et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 17:9473 (1989) and Pihlajaniemi et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84:940 (1987). The identification of motifs was done using the approach described in Example 5 and the algorithms of Examples 6 and 7. TABLE 178 provides the results of the search of these antigens.
  • Using the quantitative binding assays of Example 4, the peptides are next tested for the ability to bind MHC molecules. The ability of the peptides to suppress proliferative responses in autoreactive T cells is carried out using standard assays for T cell proliferation. For instance, methods as described by Miller et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 89:421 (1992) are suitable.
  • For further study, animal models of autoimmune disease can be used to demonstrate the efficacy of peptides of the invention. For instance, in HLA transgenic mice, autoimmune model diseases can be induced by injection of MBP, PLP or spinal cord homogenate (for MS), collagen (for arthritis). In addition, some mice become spontaneously affected by autoimmune disease (e.g., NOD mice in diabetes). Peptides of the invention are injected into the appropriate animals, to identify preferred peptides.
  • Example 25 Comparative Treatment of Data Obtained in Different Binding Analysess
  • HLA class I supermotif and motif analysis of antigens of interest was performed as described herein and in the related applications, noted above. Peptides comprising the appropriate HLA I motif or supermotif were then synthesized and assayed for binding activity. A detailed description of the protocol utilized to measure the binding of peptides to Class I and Class II MHC has been published (Sette et al., Mol. Immunol. 31:813, 1994; Sidney et al., in Current Protocols in Immunology, Margulies, Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York, Section 18.3, 1998).
  • Since under these conditions [label]<[HLA] and IC50≧[HLA], the measured IC50 values are reasonable approximations of the true KD values. To allow comparison of the data obtained in different experiments, a relative binding figure is calculated for each peptide by dividing the IC50 of a positive control for inhibition by the IC50 for each tested peptide (typically unlabeled versions of the radiolabeled probe peptide). For inter-experiment comparisons, relative binding values are compiled. These values can subsequently be converted back into IC50 nM values by dividing the IC50 nM of the positive controls for inhibition by the relative binding of the peptide of interest. This method of data compilation has proven to be the most accurate and consistent for comparing peptides that have been tested on different days, or with different lots of purified MHC.
  • HLA class I supermotif and motif-bearing peptides from HIV regulatory proteins, e.g., nef, rev, vif, tat, and vpr, are shown in TABLE 70, TABLE 71, TABLE 72, TABLE 73, TABLE 74, TABLE 75, TABLE 76, TABLES 77-80, TABLES 81-84, and TABLES 85-86. In these tables, “% conserv” refers to percent conservance, which is the degree to which the sequences are conserved in the strains evaluated to identify the sequences. The “A” designation indicates that the peptide is an analog of the native sequence. In the motif column, the designation “i” refers to individual motif and “s” refers to supermotif.
  • HLA class I supermotif and motif-bearing peptides from other antigens, e.g., cancer antigens such as CEA, p53, Her2/neu, MART1, MAGE2, MAGE3, tyrosinase, flu, gp100, HBV, HCV, HIV, HPV (including the strain designation), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), prostate cancer-associated antigens, gliadin, Mycobacterium leprae, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, T. cruzi, Candida antigens, and malaria (Plasmodium falciparum) antigens are shown in TABLE 87, TABLE 88, TABLE 89, TABLE 90, TABLES 91-92, TABLES 93-94, TABLE 95, TABLE 96, TABLES 97-102, TABLES 103-107, TABLES 108-110, TABLES 111-122 and TABLES 123-124.
  • TABLE 87, TABLE 88 and TABLE 187 show peptides bearing an HLA-A1 supermotif and/or motif.
  • TABLE 89, TABLE 90, TABLES 91-92, TABLES 93-94 and TABLE 188 show peptides bearing an HLA-A2 supermotif.
  • TABLE 95, TABLE 96 and TABLE 189 show peptides bearing an HLA-A3 supermotif and/or motif.
  • TABLES 97-102 and TABLES 103-107 show peptides bearing an HLA-A24 supermotif and/or motif.
  • TABLES 108-110 and TABLES 111-122 show peptides bearing an HLA-B7 supermotif.
  • TABLE 123-124 shows peptides bearing an HLA-B44 supermotif.
  • Peptide binding data for the designated HLA molecules are provided as IC50 values unless otherwise indicated. The “A” designation indicates that the peptide is an analog of the native sequence.
  • Using the HLA class II supermotif and motifs identified in related applications and as described above, sequences from various pathogens and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. Screening and binding assays was carried out as described in the related applications designated herein.
  • HLA class II DR supermotif and DR3 motif-bearing peptides from HIV regulatory proteins, e.g., nef, rev, vif, tat, and vpr, are shown in TABLES 125-127 and TABLE 136. The term “% conserv” refers to percent conservance, which is the degree to which the sequences are conserved in the strains evaluated to identify the sequences. In TABLE 136, in the “sequence” column, the core sequence of the motif-bearing peptide is in lower case.
  • TABLES 128, TABLES 129-130, TABLES 131-132, TABLES 133-134, TABLES 135, and TABLES 136 show HLA class II DR supermotif and DR 3 motif bearing peptides and the antigens from which they are derived. The peptide reference number, sequence, antigen protein/position of the sequence in the antigen, and binding data are shown in the tables. TABLE 129 shows binding data for DRB1*0101, *0301, *0401, *0404, and *0405. TABLE 130 shows binding data for DRB1*0701, *0802, *0901, *1101, *1201, *1302, *1501, DRB3*0101, DRB4*0101, DRB5*0101, and DQB1*0301. TABLE 131 and TABLE 133 provide the peptide reference number sequence and protein antigen/position of sequence in antigen for the peptides. Binding data are provided in TABLE 132 and TABLE 134.
  • Peptide binding data for the designated HLA molecules are provided as IC50 values unless otherwise indicated. The “A” designation indicates that the peptide is an analog of the native sequence.
  • Example 26 Quantitative Binding Assays
  • To verify that motif-containing peptide sequences are indeed capable of binding to the appropriate class I molecules, quantitative binding assays were performed as described in the parent applications. Binding affinities are expressed in reference to standard peptides as described in those applications. In addition, these applications describe algorithms to provide a more exact predictor of binding based upon the effects of different residues at each position of a peptide sequence, in addition to the anchor or conserved residues.
  • Using isolated MHC molecules prepared as described in Example 2, supra, quantitative binding assays were performed. Briefly, indicated amounts of MHC as isolated above were incubated in 0.05% NP40-PBS with ˜5 nM of radiolabeled peptides in the presence of 1-3 μM β2M and a cocktail of protease inhibitors (final concentrations 1 mM PMSF, 1.3 mM 1.10 Phenanthroline, 73 μM Pepstatin A, 8 mM EDTA, 200 μM N-α-p-tosyl-L-Lysine Chloromethyl ketone). After various times, free and bound peptides were separated by TSK 2000 gel filtration, as described previously in Sette, et al., J. Immunol., 148:844 (1992). Peptides were labeled by the use of the Chloramine T method Buus et al., Science, 235:1352 (1987), which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • The various candidate HLA binding peptides were radiolabeled and offered (5-10 nM) to 1 μM purified HLA molecules. The HBc 18-27 peptide HLA binding peptide was radiolabeled and offered (5-10 nM) to 1 μM purified HLA A2.1. After two days at 23° C. in presence of a cocktail of protease inhibitors and 1-3 μM purified human β2M, the percent of MHC class I bound radioactivity was measured by size exclusion chromatography, as previously described for class II peptide binding assays in Sette, et al., in Seminars in Immunology, Vol. 3, Gefter, ed. (W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1991), pp 195-202, which is incorporated herein by reference. Using this protocol, high binding (30-95% of standard peptide binding) was detected in all cases in the presence, but not in the absence, of the relevant HLA allele. Also using this protocol, high binding (95%) was detected in all cases in the presence of purified HLA A2.1 molecules.
  • To explore the specificity of binding, we determined whether the binding was inhibitable by excess unlabeled peptide, and if so, what the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50%) might be. The rationale for this experiment was threefold. First, such an experiment is crucial in order to demonstrate specificity. Second, a sensitive inhibition assay is the most viable alternative for a high throughput quantitative binding assay. Third, inhibition data subjected to Scatchard analysis can give quantitative estimates of the K of interaction and the fraction of receptor molecules capable of binding ligand (% occupancy).
  • Results of binding assays described here may be expressed in terms of IC50's. Given the conditions in which our assays are run (i.e., limiting MHC and labeled peptide concentrations), these values approximate KD values. It should be noted that IC50 values can change, often dramatically, if the assay conditions are varied, and depending on the particular reagents used (e.g., Class I preparation, etc.). For example, excessive concentrations of MHC will increase the apparent measured IC50 of a given ligand.
  • As a specific example to verify that motif-containing peptide sequences are indeed capable of binding to the appropriate class I molecules, specific binding assays were established. HLA-A3.2 molecules were purified from GM3107 EBV cells by affinity chromatography using the GAPA3 mAb (anti-A3) to isolate A3.2. Prior to the step, the lysate was depleted of HLA B and C molecules by repeated passages over a B1.23.2 column (this antibody is B, C specific) generally as described in Example 2, above.
  • As a radiolabeled probe, the peptide 941.12 (KVFPYALINK (SEQ ID NO:______)), containing an A3.2 motif, was used. This peptide contains the anchor residues V2 and K10, associated with A3.2-specific binders, described above. A Y residue was inserted at position 5 to allow for radiolodination. Peptides were labeled by the use of the Chloramine T method Buus et al., Science 235:1352 (1987), which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • A dose range of purified A3.2 was incubated with 10 nM of 941.12 at pH 7.0 and 23° C., in presence of a protease inhibitor cocktail (1 mM PMSF, 1.3 mM 1.10 phenanthroline, 73 μM pepstatin A, 8 mM EDTA, and 200 μM N ap-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethyl ketone (TLCK)), in presence of 1 μM purified human β2 microglobulin. After two days, the % bound radioactivity was measured by gel filtration over TSK 2000 columns as previously described for class II peptide binding assays in Sette et al., in Seminars in Immunology, Vol. 3, Gefter, ed. (W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1991), pp 195-202, which is incorporated herein by reference. (see, FIG. 17). Good binding (in the 60 to 100% range) was observed for A3.2 concentrations ranging between 35 and 300 nM. 30% binding was observed at 15 nM A3.2.
  • To minimize A3.2 usage and to increase the sensitivity of the assay, a concentration of 5-10 nM A3.2 was selected for further assays. In the experiment shown in FIG. 18, 7 nM A3.2 and an equivalent concentration of radiolabeled 941.12 were incubated using the conditions described above and in the presence of a dose range of three peptides (HBc 18-27 (924.07), a Prostate Specific Antigen peptide (939.01), and HIV nef 73-82 (940.03)). It was found that peptide 940.03 inhibited strongly, with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50%) of 22 nM, while a weaker inhibition was observed with peptide 939.01 (IC50% 940 nM). Finally, peptide 924.07 did not show any inhibition up to the 30 μM level. Thus, it is concluded that peptides 940.03 and 939.01 are high and intermediate affinity binders, respectively, while peptide 924.07 is classified as a low affinity or negative binder.
  • For instance, in analysis of an inhibition curve for the interaction of the peptide HBc 18-27 with A2.1, the IC50% was determined to be 25 nM. Further experiments were conducted to obtain Scatchard plots. For HBc 18-27/A2.1, six different experiments using six independent MHC preparations yielded a KD of 15.5±9.9×10−9 M and occupancy values of 6.2% (±1.4).
  • Several reports have demonstrated that class I molecules, unlike class II, are highly selective with regard to the size of the peptide epitope that they recognize. The optimal size varies between 8 and 10 residues for different peptides and different class I molecules, although MHC binding peptides as long as 13 residues have been identified. To verify the stringent size requirement, a series of N- and C-terminal truncation/extension analogs of the peptide HBc 18-27 were synthesized and tested for A2.1 binding. Previous studies had demonstrated that the optimal size for CTL recognition of this peptide was the 10-mer HBc18-27 (Sette et al. supra). It was found that removal or addition of a residue at the C terminus of the molecule resulted in a 30 to 100-fold decrease in binding capacity. Further removal or addition of another residue completely obliterated binding. Similarly, at the N-terminus of the molecule, removal or deletion of one residue from the optimal HBc 18-27 peptide completely abrogated A2.1 binding.
  • Throughout this disclosure, results have been expressed in terms of IC50's. Given the conditions in which the assays are run (i.e., limiting MHC and labeled peptide concentrations), these values approximate KD values. It should be noted that IC50 values can change, often dramatically, if the assay conditions are varied, and depending on the particular reagents used (e.g., Class I preparation, etc.). For example, excessive concentrations of MHC will increase the apparent measured IC50 of a given ligand.
  • An alternative way of expressing the binding data, to avoid these uncertainties, is as a relative value to a reference peptide. The reference peptide is included in every assay. As a particular assay becomes more, or less, sensitive, the IC50's of the peptides tested may change somewhat. However, the binding relative to the reference peptide will not change. For example, in an assay run under conditions such that the IC50 of the reference peptide increases 10-fold, all IC50 values will also shift approximately ten-fold. Therefore, to avoid ambiguities, the assessment of whether a peptide is a good, intermediate, weak, or negative binder should be based on its IC50, relative to the IC50 of the standard peptide.
  • The reference peptide for the HLA-A2.1 assays described herein is referred to as 941.01 having a sequence of FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______). An average IC50 of 5 (nM) was observed under the assay conditions utilized.
  • Other reference peptides used in the assays include the following: A1CON1 (YLEPAIAKY (SEQ ID NO:______)), 25 nM for A*0101; HBV core 18-27 F6->Y (FLPSDYFPSV (SEQ ID NO:______)), 4.6 nM for A*0201; A3CON1 (KVFPYALINK (SEQ ID NO:______)), 10 nM for A*0301; A3CON1 (KVFPYALINK (SEQ ID NO:______)), 5.9 nM for A*1101; A24CON1 (AYIDNYNKF (SEQ ID NO:______)), 12 nM for A82401; A2.1 signal sequence 5-13 L7->Y (APRTLVYLL (SEQ ID NO:______)) 4.7 nM for B*0701; HIV gp 586-593 Y1>F, Q5>Y (FLKDYQLL (SEQ ID NO:______)), 14 nM for B*0801; Rat 60S (FRYNGLIHR (SEQ ID NO:______)), 6.4 nM for B*2705; B35CON2 (FPFKYAAAF (SEQ ID NO:______)), 4.4 nM B*3503.
  • If the IC50 of the standard peptide measured in a particular-assay is different than that reported in the table then it should be understood that the threshold values used to determine good, intermediate, weak, and negative binders should be modified by a corresponding factor. For example, if in an A2.1 binding assay, the IC50 of the A2.1 standard (941.01) were to be measured as 8 nM instead of 5 nM, then a peptide ligand would be called a good binder only if it had an IC50 of less than 80 nM (i.e., 8 nM×0.1), instead of the usual cut-off value of 50 nM.
  • The experimental system herein described can be used to test binding of large numbers of synthetic peptides to a variety of different class I specificities. Specific binding assays can be performed as follows.
  • HLA-A11-Specific Assay
  • The cell line BVR was used as a source of HLA. The dependency of the binding on MHC concentration in presence or absence of β2M are shown in FIG. 19, while FIG. 20 depicts the dose dependency of the inhibition by excess unlabeled ligand. Finally, FIG. 21 shows a Scatchard analysis experiment. Values of apparent kD of −6 nM and of 10% active receptor were obtained, and were remarkable for their similarity to the values obtained for A2.1 and A3.2. The sequence of the peptide used as a radiolabeled probe (940-06) is AVDLYHFLK (SEQ ID NO:______).
  • HLA-A1-Specific Assay
  • In this case, the EBV cell line Steinlin was used as a source of purified HLA. The same protocol previously applied to purification of other HLA alleles (i.e., depletion of B, C molecules by a B1.23.2 mAb column, followed by purification of A molecules by means of a W632 mAb column) was utilized. On the basis of the pool sequencing data, consensus peptides were synthesized, directly radiolabeled, and tested for HLA binding using the standard protocol (1 mM β2M, 2 days RT incubation in presence of protease inhibitors). A graph illustrating the relationship between % binding and iM input HLA A1 is shown in FIG. 22. From the data, it was concluded that in analogy with what was observed for HLA A2, 3, and 11, as little as 30 nM are sufficient to obtain −10% binding. The sequence of the peptide used as a radiolabeled probe (944.02) is YLEPAIAKY (SEQ ID NO:______). In the next set of experiments, the specificity of the assay established was verified by its inhabitability by excess unlabeled peptide. The IC50% was measured (FIG. 23) as −20 nM. Further Scatchard analysis (FIG. 24) verified that the apparent KD of the interaction corresponded to 21 nM, with a % of active receptor corresponding to 5.1%.
  • HLA-A24 Specific Assay
  • HLA A24 molecules were purified from the KT3 EBV cell line. In this case, two consensus peptides whose sequences were based on the pool sequencing data have been synthesized. Their sequences are: 979-01, AYIDNVYKF (SEQ ID NO:______) and 979.02, AYIDNYNKF (SEQ ID NO:______). The results of experiments in which the % bound of these two peptides as a function of input MHC was measured are shown in FIG. 25. In both cases, 10-15% binding was obtained with as little as 20-50 nM MHC. Cold inhibition experiments (FIG. 26), limiting MHC concentrations, revealed that the binding was readily inhibitable by excess unlabeled peptide, with an apparent KD of 30 and 60 nM, respectively. Further Scatchard experiments verified values of 136 nM and 28 nM, respectively. The apparent % of available receptor (active MHC) were 8.3% and 7.4%, respectively (FIG. 13A and FIG. 13B). On the basis of these data, peptide 979.02 was arbitrarily selected as standard label indicator for A24 assays. Furthermore, on the basis of the data herein described, we also conclude that the goal of establishing an A24-specific binding assay has been accomplished. In conclusion, specific assays for the five major HLA alleles have been described.
  • Example 27 Expansion of HLA A Motifs
  • Establishing in vitro binding assays allows one to readily quantitate in vitro the binding capacity of various synthetic peptides to the various alleles of interest (HLA A1, A2, A3, A11, and A24). This allows verification of the correctness of the motifs by means of peptides carrying the various HLA A motifs for their capacity to bind purified HLA molecules. Typically, peptides were synthesized with specific HLA motifs embedded in a neutral backbone composed of only alanine residues. In some cases, a K residue was also introduced within the sequence, with the purpose of increasing solubility. The use of such “neutral” poly A backbones, as applied to the case of class II molecules, has been described in detail, for example, by Jardetzky et al., (Jardetzky et al., EMBO J., 9(6):1797, 1990)
  • For example, in the case of A3.2, a motif has been defined with a hydrophobic residue in position 2 and a positive charge (K) in position 9. Thus, to verify that the presence of these two anchor residues would allow, in the context of a poly A backbone, for A3.2 binding, the poly A analog with the sequence AMAAAAAK (SEQ ID NO:______) was synthesized (TABLE 88).
  • Similarly, other peptides carrying other HLA motifs were also synthesized and tested for HLA binding. It was found that in all cases, the presence of the specific HLA motifs was conducive to binding to the relevant HLA allele, with estimated KD comprised of between 125 and 2.8 nM. In most cases, the binding was also absolutely specific, in that no binding was detected to irrelevant alleles. Only two exceptions to this general rule were observed. Firstly, A3 and A11 peptides crossreacted extensively with each other, perhaps as could have been expected by the fact that the motifs for these two alleles are remarkably similar. Second, some A1 peptides crossreacted, albeit with much lower affinities, on A11 and A3.2.
  • To further define the structural requirements for the interaction between peptide epitopes and various class I alleles of interest, analogs of 10 residues in length of some of the 9 residue peptides shown in TABLE 88 were synthesized (TABLE 89). These analogs were generated by inserting an additional Ala residue within the poly A backbone, so that the anchor residues are not located in positions 2 and 10 (as opposed to 2 and 9 in the previous table). The results obtained illustrate that motifs of 10 residues are also capable of specifically binding to the relevant class I alleles, albeit with a slightly lower efficiency.
  • In summary, these data confirm that both 9-mer and 10-mer peptides which contain the appropriate motifs can bind HLA. On the basis of these data, 8-mer or 11-mer peptides should also be capable of binding, even if perhaps with lower affinities.
  • The data described above show that the presence of certain residues in the anchor positions does allow (at least in a “neutral” poly A backbone) for HLA binding. To investigate to what degree other amino acids (for example, chemically related amino acids) might be tolerated in these crucial anchor positions, analogs of some of the poly A peptides from TABLE 88 were synthesized, in which the residue present in position 2 (or 3) or 9 was varied. The results of this analysis are shown in TABLE 88, TABLE 89, TABLE 90, TABLES 91-92, TABLES 93-94, TABLE 95, and TABLE 96.
  • In the case of A3.2 (TABLE 90), in position 2, L, M, I, V, S, A, T, and F were found to be preferred (binding >0.1 relative to previously defined anchor residues), while C, G, and D were permitted (binding >0.01 to 0.1 relative to previously defined anchor residues). The substitution of E, because of its similarity to D, in this position should also be tolerated. In position 9, K, R, and Y were preferred. Because of a similarity in nature, that H and F should also be preferred. No other residue was tolerated in position 9 for A3 binding.
  • In the case of A11 (TABLES 91-92), the preferred residues in position 2 were L, M, I, V, A, S, T, G, N (L and Q by similarity). Tolerated were C, F, D (and E by similarity). In position 9, K was preferred and R was tolerated. H should also be tolerated by similarity.
  • In the case of A24 (TABLES 93-94), Y and F were preferred in position 2 (and W by similarity); no other residue was tolerated. In position 9, F, I, and L were preferred (and W and M by extension). No other residue was tolerated.
  • In the case of A1, three different anchor residues had previously been defined. The results shown in the preceding section show that they act independently of each other (i.e., that two out of three anchors would be sufficient for binding). This is indeed the case. For this reason, analogs containing two anchors were synthesized to define what residues might be preferred or tolerated in each position. The data shown in Table 18 show that in position 2, T, S, and M are preferred, and no other residue is tolerated. In position 3 (TABLE 96), D and E are preferred, and A, S (and T by similarity) are tolerated. Finally, in position 9, only Y is preferred, and no other residue appears to be tolerated (TABLE 96).
  • Thus, on the basis of the data, it is concluded that peptides carrying any combination of two preferred residues can bind. Peptides containing “imperfect” motifs, i.e., carrying a preferred residue at one position and a tolerated one at the other anchor position, should also be capable of binding, even if with somewhat lower affinity. Using the motifs of this invention for various MHC class I alleles amino acid-sequences from various viral and tumor-related proteins were analyzed for the presence of motifs. The results of this motif analysis are shown in TABLES 112-122.
  • Example 28 Validation of HLA Peptide Binding Motifs with an Unbiased Set of HPV 16 Peptides
  • Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are implicated in the etiology of cervical cancer (Pfister, H. (1974) Biology and biochemistry of papillomaviruses, Rev. Physiol. Biochem., 99:111; zur Hausen, H. (1991). Human papillomaviruses in the pathogenesis of anogenital cancer. Virology. 184:9) and in up to 10% of total mortality due to cancer worldwide (zur Hausen, H. (1991). Viruses in Human Cancers, Science 254:1167). Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in females worldwide (Parkin, D. M., Laara, E., and Muir, C. S. (1988), Estimates of the worldwide frequency of sixteen major cancers in (1980), Int. J. Cancer, 41:184). HPV DNA is present in more than 90% of the cervical carcinomas and predominantly of the HPV 16 genotype (Resnick, R. M., Cornelissen, M. T., Wright, D, K., Eichinger, G. H., Fox, H. S., ter Schegget, J., and Manos, M. M. (1990). Detection and typing of human papillomavirus in archival cervical cancer specimens by DNA amplification with consensus primers. J. Natl. Cancer Inst.; Van den Brule, A. J. C., Walboomers, J. M. M., du Maine, M., Kenemans, P., and Meijer, C. J. L. M. (1991). Difference in prevalence of human papillomavirus genotypes in cytomorphologically normal smears is associated with a history of cervical intraepithetal neoplasia, Int. J. Cancer, 48:404). The ability of HPV 16 early region 6 and 7 (E6, E7) open reading frames to in vitro immortalize rodent cells (Yasumoto, S., Burkhardt, A. L., Doniger, J., and DiPaolo, J. A. (1986). Human Papillomaviruses type 16 DNA induced malignant transformation of NIH3T3 cells. J. Virol., 57:572) and human keratinocytes (Pirisi. L., Yasumoto, S., Feller, M., Doniger, J., and DiPaolo, J. A. (1987). Transformation of human fibroblasts and keratinocytes with human papillomavirus type 16 DNA. J. Virol. 61:1061) and to transform human fibroblasts (Smits, H. L., Raadsheer, E., Rood, I., Mehendale, S., Slater, R. M., van der Noordaa, J., and ter Schegget, J. (1988). Induction of anchorage-independent growth of human embryonic fibroblasts with a deletion in the short arm of chromosome 11, J. Virol. 62:4538) suggests direct involvement of HPV 16 in the multi-step process of cervical carcinogenesis.
  • In general T cell immunity, in particular mediated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) is important in the defense against virus-induced tumors (Melief, C. J. (1992). Tumor eradication by adoptive transfer of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, Adv. Cancer Res., 58:143; Melief, C. J., and Kast, W. M. (1992). Lessons from T cell responses to virus induced tumors for cancer eradication in general, Cancer Surv., 13:81). Recently in a mouse model, it was reported that some degree of protection against HPV 16 E7 expressing tumors can be obtained with CTL after immunization with HPV 16 E7 expressing cells (Chen. L., Thomas, E, K., Hu, S. L., Hellström, I., and Hellstrom, K. E. (1991). Human papillomavirus type 16 nucleoprotein E7 is a tumor rejection antigen, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 88:110; Chen, L., Ashe, S., Brady, W. A., Hellstrom, I., Hellström, K. E., Ledbetter, J. A., McGowan, P., and Linsley, P. S. (1992). Costimulation of Antitumor immunity by the B7 counterreceptor for the T lymphocyte molecules CD28 and CTLA-4. Cell. 71:1093). In vivo protection by CTL was recently shown in mouse models in which synthetic peptides containing CTL epitopes were used for efficient priming of mice against virus infections (Schulz, M., Zinkernagel, R. M., and Hengarter, H. (1991). Peptide-induced antiviral protection by cytotoxic T cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 88:991; Kast, W. M., Roux, L., Curren, J., Blom, H. J. J., Voordouw, A. C., Meleon, R. H., Kolakofski, D., and Melief, C. J. M. (1991). Protection against lethal Sendai virus infection by in vivo priming of virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes with an unbound peptide, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 88:2283). Moreover in a mouse model it has now been shown that complete protection against HPV 16 induced tumors can be achieved by peptide vaccination with a CTL epitope derived from the viral oncogene E7.
  • The HPV 16 E6 and E7 gene products are the most desirable target antigens for vaccination against HPV 16 induced tumors. Both are retained and highly expressed in HPV 16-transformed cancer cells in vivo (Baker, C. J., Phelps, W. C., Lindgren, V., Braun, M. J., Gonda, M. A., and Howley, P. M. [1987]. Structural and transcriptional analysis of human papillomavirus type 16 sequences in cervical carcinoma cell lines, J. Virol., 61:962; Smotkin, D., and Wettstein, F. O. [1986]. Transcription of human papillomavirus type 16 early genes in a cervical cancer and cancer-derived cell line and identification of the E7 protein, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 83:4680) and involved in the induction and maintenance of cellular transformation in vitro (Crook, T., Morgenstern, J. P., Crawford, L., and Banks, L. [1989]. Continued expression of HPV-16 E7 protein is required for maintenance of the transformed phenotype of cells co-transformed by HPV-16 plus EJ ra., EMBO J., 8:513; Hawley-Nelson, P., Vousden, K. H., Hubbert, N. L., Lowy, D. R., and Schiller, J. T. [1989]. HPV 16 E6 and E7 proteins cooperate to immortalize human foreskin keratinocytes, EMBO J., 8:3905). Dependence of in vitro growth of cell lines derived from cervical cancers on the expression of E6 and E7 emphasizes involvement of these oncogenes in maintenance of the phenotype of cervical carcinoma cell lines (Von Knebel Doeberitz, M., Bauknect, T., Bartch, D., and zur Hausen, H. [1991]. Influence of chromosomal integration on glucocorticoid-regulated transcription of growth-stimulation papillomavirus genes E6 and E7 in cervical carcinoma cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 88:1411). To determine the CTL epitopes and potential vaccine candidates of HPV 16 for humans, we screened peptides spanning the HPV 16 E6 and E7 protein sequences for their ability to bind to the most frequent human MHC molecules, namely HLA-A1, A3.2, A11.2 and A24. Combined these five alleles will cover about 90% of the world population (Dupont, B., ed. [1987]. Immunology of HLA Vol. I Histocompatibility Testing, Springer-Verlag, New York).
  • A complete set of 240 overlapping synthetic peptides of 9 aa length and 8 aa overlap covering the entire HPV 16 E6 and E7 oncogene sequences were synthesized. The peptides were tested for their ability to bind the aforementioned HLA molecules in the binding assay described above. The results of this analysis show the relative affinity of all peptides for the respective HLA alleles and reveal the possible candidate CTL epitopes for use in peptide based vaccines for humans in TABLE 98, TABLE 99, TABLE 100, and TABLE 101.
  • The results confirm that peptide binding motif described in this invention for the aforementioned HLA alleles predict which peptide of a protein is likely to bind into the groove of a specified HLA molecule. Since we used a large and unbiased set of peptides, the results of the peptide binding analyses were used to evaluate the value of these motifs both for their predictive capacities and the necessity to have particular anchor aa residues on positions 2, (3) and 9 in a peptide.
  • Peptides. Peptides were generated by solid phase strategies on a multiple peptide synthesizer (Abimed AMS 422) by repeated cycles in which addition of Fmoc protected amino acids to a resin of polystyrene was alternated with a Fmoc-deprotection procedure (Gausepohl, H., Kraft, M., Boulin, Ch., and Frank, R. W. [1990]. Automated multiple peptide synthesis with BOP activation. in Proc. of the 11th American peptide symposium. J. E. Rivier and G. R. Marshall, Ed. ESCOM, Leiden. 1003-1004). The peptides all carrying a COOH group at the C-terminal end, were cleaved from the resin and side chain protective groups were removed by treatment with aqueous TFA. Peptides were analyzed by reversed phase HPLC lyophilized and dissolved at a concentration of 1 mg/ml in phosphate-buffered saline with 3% DMSO (Sigma, St. Louis, Mo. 63175) before use. Once dissolved, the peptides were stored at −70° C. Since cysteine containing peptides are susceptible to (air) oxidation during synthesis and handling, these peptides were synthesized with an alanine instead of a cysteine.
  • Identification of peptides from HPV 16 E6 and E7 proteins that bind to different HLA-A alleles. A complete set of 240 peptides of 9 aa in length and overlapping by 8 aa, covering the sequences of the entire HPV 16 E6 and E7 proteins, was tested for binding to 5 different HLA-A molecules.
  • The results of this analysis are depicted in TABLE 98, TABLE 99, TABLE 100, and TABLE 101. TABLE 98 describes the peptides of HPV 16 that bound to HLA-A1 molecules. All peptides were tested. Listed are only peptides yielding ratio values of ≧0.001. It can be seen that 2 peptides bound with high affinity to this molecule (>0.1), 6 with intermediate affinity (0.1-0.01) and 1 with low affinity (0.01-0.001). Peptides were ranked by ratio value to allow comparison of data obtained in different experiments. To calculate the concentration of a peptide necessary to yield a 50% inhibition dose (IC50) one has to divide the value of the standard IC50 by the ratio. For example, peptide E6-80 has an IC50 of 23 nM (81/3.5).
  • TABLE 99 describes the peptides that bound to HLA-A3.2 molecules. Seven peptides were identified as high affinity binders, 6 as intermediate affinity binders and 13 as low affinity binders. TABLE 100 describes the peptides that bound to HLA-A11.2 molecules. Six high affinity peptides were identified, 4 intermediate affinity binders and 10 low affinity binders. Two high affinity binding peptides (E6-59 IYRDGNPY (SEQ ID NO:______) and E6-80 ISEYRHYAY (SEQ ID NO:______)) and two weak affinity binding peptides with a Y at the 9th position (E6-42 QQLLRREVY (SEQ ID NO:______), E6-69 VADKALKFY (SEQ ID NO:______)) were identified for HLA-A11.2 Considering the high binding strength of the first two peptides and the similarity between the HLA-A11.2 motif and the HLA-A3.2 motif in which Y's are preferred at the 9th aa position, tyrosines should be included at the 9th position in the HLA-A 11.2 motif. Comparing TABLE 105 and TABLE 106, it is clear that there is a large overlap of peptides that bound to both A3.2 and A11.2 molecules. Eighteen out of 28 E6 and E7 peptides binding to these two HLA molecules overlapped and only 8 peptides were unique for HLA-A3.2 and 2 peptides unique for HLA-A11.2.
  • Finally, TABLE 107 describes the peptides that bound to HLA-A24 molecules. Here 2 peptides were identified as high affinity binding peptides, 5 as intermediate affinity binding peptides and 5 as low binding peptides. One high affinity peptide (E6-72 KALKFYSKI (SEQ ID NO:______)) and one intermediate affinity peptide (E7-49 RAHYNIVTF (SEQ ID NO:______)) were identified, indicating that an A at the second position should be allowed in the HLA-A24 motif. All these inclusions are indicated in TABLE 102. In analyzing TABLE 69, TABLE 70, TABLE 71, TABLE 72, and TABLE 73, it can be concluded that between 2 and 7 high affinity binding peptides were identified for all of the tested HLA-A molecules. Occasionally some peptides were binding to more alleles. Three peptides (E6-7, E6-37 and E6-79), bound to HLA-A2.1, A3.2 and A11.2. One peptide (E6-38) bound to HLA-A3.2, A11.2 and A24 and two peptides (E6-69 and E6-80) bound to HLA-A1, A3.2 and A11.2. But these crossreactive peptides bound only weakly to one or more of the different HLA molecules. In general, however, it can be concluded that, except for HLA-A3.2 and HLA-A11.2 molecules, almost all HLA molecules bind unique peptides.
  • Validation of HLA-A peptide binding motifs with an unbiased set of HPV 16 E6 and E7 peptides. We analyzed how well the motifs for anchor positions described in this invention predicted the binding of a peptide, and also the reverse: how well binding peptides followed the identified motifs. For this, peptides were ranked as high binders, intermediate binders, weak binders, and negative binders and for each peptide the motif prediction based on the anchor motif rules of Table 74 were analyzed. The overall efficiency of the 2, (3), and 9 anchor motifs was then calculated and this is summarized in TABLE 102. It can be concluded that the motifs described above for the different HLA-A molecules are quite accurate. One hundred percent of the HLA-A1, A3.2, and A24 high binders would be predicted as well as 67% of the HLA-11.2. Even for the intermediate binders between 40 and 100% would be predicted depending on the HLA-A molecule analyzed. Furthermore, the percent of weak binding peptides that would be predicted is low and the percent of those peptides that were predicted to bind but actually did not bind is very low for all these alleles.
  • Analyzed differently, of the 12 peptides predicted to bind to HLA-A1 actually 5 bound with high or intermediate affinity. This indicates that only a few peptides would have to be made to find these potential CTL epitopes. The figures for HLA-A3.2, A11.2, and A24 were 10/32, 7/26, and 4/7, respectively. This implies that the predictive value for all of these alleles is good. Besides a small number of peptides that had not been predicted by the recently described motifs, the (−) in TABLE 104, TABLE 105, TABLE 106, and TABLE 107, a number of peptides that were predicted by the 2, (3) and 9 anchor motifs did not bind, indicating that having the right anchor residues is not always sufficient for binding and implicating that non-anchor residues can make negative contributions to the binding of a peptide.
  • Example 29 Presence of a Motif is Necessary but not Sufficient for High Affinity Class I Binding
  • To investigate further how the presence of different motifs might influence the capacity of different peptides to bind to the relevant HLA alleles, the sequences of various potential target molecules were scanned for the presence of motif-containing peptides. The peptides thus identified were synthesized and tested for binding. It was found (TABLE 97) that in the case of A3.2, only 39 (19%) of the 205 peptides bound with high affinity in the 1 to 50 nM range. 22.4% of them bound with intermediate affinities (in the 50 to 500 nM range), while 34.6% bound weakly (in the 500 nM to 50 μM range). Finally, 23.9% of them did not bind at all, at least up to the 50 μM level. In the case of A11, 33 (33%) of the 100 peptides bound with high affinity in the 1 to 50 nM range. 35% of them bound with intermediate affinities (in the 50 nM range), while 24% bound weakly (in the 500 nM to 50 μM range). Finally, 8% of them did not bind at all, at least up to the 50 μM level.
  • Similar results were also obtained (data not shown) in the case of A1 and A24.
  • The same type of analyses were also performed in the case of 10-mer peptides carrying either the A3.2, and A11 motifs (TABLE 109 and TABLE 110). It was found that in these cases, the frequency of good binders was even lower (17.5%, and 29.8%, respectively). These data confirm the fact that motif-containing 10-mer peptides can indeed bind, albeit with, in general, reduced affinity.
  • In summary, the data shown in this section clearly show that the presence of the correct anchor residues is not sufficient per se to allow for good HLA binding. It is thus apparent that the nature of the residues contained in positions other than 2(3) and 9 (or 10) can influence binding. The most likely explanation of this observation is that the presence of certain residues (in positions other than 2 and 9) can negate or increase the binding potential of a peptide determinant.
  • The data shown in the preceding sections describe how specific binding assays can be used to identify, within motif-containing peptides, peptides that are immunogenic. We also wanted to devise an alternative strategy, namely to derive procedures that would be able to predict, within motif-containing peptides, which peptides might be good or intermediate binders and thereby might be immunogenic. In other experiments not shown intermediate or good binders have been shown to be immunogenic. In particular, to identify residues that have a negative impact on binding an analysis of all positions for A3.2, A11, and all motif-containing peptides, both 9-mers and 10-mers is carried out. In the case of A11, because of the small occurrence of nonbinding peptides, a different cutoff was used such that the analysis compares good and intermediate binders on the one hand to weak and nonbinders on the other.
  • Example 30 Specificity and Cross-Reactivity of HLA Binding
  • Peptide sequences capable of binding the most common HLA alleles have been identified in previous studies. However, a large number of monospecific epitopes would be required to provide substantial coverage of all ethnic groups. In contrast, the alternative approach of identifying broadly crossreactive motifs (supermotifs) has the potential of covering a similar proportion of the population using just two or three motifs. TABLE 28 shows a hypothetical population coverage achieved by each of the different motif types or combinations of motif types, using known and predicted motifs.
  • To explore specificity and cross-reactivity of HLA binding in more detail, a panel of HLA-A and B restricted T cell epitopes was tested for binding in the assays described in Examples 1 & 2, above. It was found (TABLE 26) that the majority of the peptides were good or intermediate binders to the appropriate restriction element. The binding, in general, was allele-specific. Similar data were obtained with a panel of HLA-B naturally processed peptides (TABLE 27), in which it was found that 12 of 12 peptides were good binders to the relevant restriction element. In addition, however, some cross-reactivities were detected, particularly in the case of alleles which had overlapping motifs.
  • For example, a high degree of cross-reactivity was noted between A3.2 and A11 (shaded areas, TABLE 26). The cross-reactivity seen between B7 and B8 with the B8 epitope 1054.05 can be explained by the fact that this peptide has the motif for both B7 and B8. The B7 motif is proline in position 2 and small hydrophobics at the C-terminal. B8 recognized residues with basic charges (R,K) in positions 3 and 5, and small hydrophobics at the C-terminal. These data demonstrate that 1) in general, for both the A and B isotypes, the binding is rather specific; and 2) occasional cross-reactivities exist and can usually be explained by either shared motifs or the presence within a single peptide of more than one motif.
  • The data available thus far have defined a set of motifs which are summarized in Table 28. Three motifs are shared by multiple alleles (identified as types C, D, and F in TABLE 28). Alleles of type C have hydrophobic residues at position 2 and at the C-terminus; alleles of type D have hydrophobic residues at position 2, with positively charged residues (R,K) at the C-terminus; and alleles of type F have proline at position 2, with hydrophobic residues at the C-terminus. Coverage of a significant fraction of the population is achieved by identifying peptides which bind to the alleles listed in TABLE 28 for the C, D, and F “supermotifs.”
  • Example 31 Prediction of Alleles Binding the Major Motif Supermotifs
  • Further analysis of the crossreactivity observed between A3, A11, A31, and Aw68 was made by assessing the similarities of these HLA molecules in the residues that make up the B and F binding pockets involved in the interactions with position 2 and the C terminal residue of the peptides which bind these molecules. When this analysis was performed, a high degree of similarity between these alleles becomes evident (see, Matsumura, M., et al., Science, 257:927 1992 for a discussion of the structure of the peptide binding pockets in the groove of MHC Class I molecules). TABLES 29 and 30 shows the residues which constitute the F or C-terminal pocket for these alleles. The residues are completely conserved in all four alleles, and experimental data have indicated that each of these alleles recognized basic residues (R,K) at the C-terminus of peptides. B27, an allele which also recognizes basic residues at the C-termini of peptides, differs from A3, A11, A31, and Aw68 by only a single residue, a conservative isoleucine to leucine difference.
  • These striking similarities can be contrasted with the sequences of HLA molecules which do not share the basic charge C-terminal motif. Further similarities between A3, A11, A31 and Aw68 are also seen in the B pocket (TABLE 31), where they also share overlapping motifs (hydrophobics and threonine).
  • Remarkable motif similarities are demonstrated by the preference of many HLA-B (B7, B14, B35, B51, B53, and B54) and HLA-C (Cw4, Cw6, and Cw7) alleles for proline in position 2. An analysis of the B pocket of the HLA-B alleles is shown in TABLE 33, and reveals that they all share similar B pockets, having the same or conservatively different (i.e., N/Q) residues in positions 9, 63, 66, and 70. Interestingly, in addition to sharing a motif based on proline in position 2, all of these alleles prefer hydrophobic residues (F of LIV) in position 9. If further alleles could be identified which have motifs fitting the three basic patterns (C, D, and F), it would allow exploitation of crossreactivity using peptides already developed. Crossreactive alleles could be identified by two different approaches. In the first approach, one could establish assays for a large panel of different alleles and empirically determine which motifs fit the various supermotifs. In the second approach, one could attempt to predict a priori crossreactivity based on pocket structure. The analysis discussed above, which compared and contrasted the binding pockets of alleles which share similar B pockets and motifs, or similar F pockets and motifs with alleles which have different motifs, supports the notion that sharing similar pockets will result in the sharing of similar motifs. If this assumption is true, a number of assays for which cell lines are readily available could be explored (TABLE 32). These alleles all have B and F pockets, which suggests that their motifs might fit into one of the motif types defined in TABLE 28.
  • Example 32 Peptide Binding to B54
  • To experimentally address the feasibility of increasing allele coverage by a priori selecting alleles which are likely to crossreact, we have examined B54, which is present in about 10% of the Asian population. Sequence analysis of the B pocket of B54 suggested a close similarity to B35, B51, and B53 (TABLE 33), B54 differing from the other alleles fairly conservatively at three positions. Most interestingly, the polar residues at positions 9, 63, and 70, which are invariable amongst Pro2 preferring alleles (i.e., alleles to which peptides comprising the B7-like-supermotif bind) and, we speculate, may be crucial for “proline-ness,” were completely invariant. The F pocket of B54 shares the S,N,L triplet at positions 77, 80, and 81 with B7, B8, and B35, and carries a pair of hydrophobic residues at positions 95 and 116, as do these other B alleles. B7, B8, and B35 all prefer peptides with hydrophobic C-terminals.
  • The analysis discussed above suggested that B54 might recognize peptides carrying a Pro2-hydrophobic-c-terminal motif (i.e., a B7-like-supermotif). To test this hypothesis, we analyzed whether the B35 binding B35CON2 peptide (Cytel number 1021.05; sequence FPFKYAAAF (SEQ ID NO:______)) could bind to B54. Indeed, excellent binding was detected, with an estimated Kd in the 5 nM range. Thus, a high affinity ligand was selected for B54 based on B and F pocket structural analysis without any previous knowledge of a specific motif. These data illustrate how it may be possible to select, a priori, alleles which have the potential for extensive crossreactivity and thus cover a large segment of the population.
  • Example 33 Binding of Peptides to B7-Like Supermotif HLA Alleles
  • Peptides bearing the B7-like supermotif were tested for binding to purified HLA molecules of some of the alleles sharing the B7-like specificity. The binding assay was performed as described in Example 2. TABLE 35 shows the binding to HLA-B*0701, B*3501, B*3502, B*3503, and B*5401 of a set of peptides reported in the literature to be restricted or naturally bound to various HLA-B alleles.
  • TABLE 36 shows the binding of a set of 124 9-mer and 124 10-mer B7-like supermotif bearing peptides of various viral and bacterial origin to HLA-B*0701, B*3501, B*5301, and B*5401. In general, immunogenicity is correlated with binding affinity in that peptides which bind MHC with affinities of 500 nM or less show greater immunogenicity.
  • As shown in TABLE 35 and TABLE 36, there are peptides which are capable of binding to more than one allele, demonstrating that molecules of the defined B7-like supermotif family are indeed capable of binding overlapping sets of peptides. To date, approximately 10 peptides capable of over 25% (at minimum) population coverage, as defined through its binding to any B7-like allele(s), have been identified (Table 106). HBV, HIV, HCV, Mage 2, Mage 3, and P. falciparum are each represented by at least one cross-reactive binder.
  • The basis for the observed cross-reactivity was examined by first establishing for four alleles, B*0701, B*3501, B*5301, and B*5401, their individual secondary anchor motifs (FIG. 3). From the individual motifs, a B7-like cross reactive motif is comprised of all residues which are positive secondary anchors for at least 2 of the four alleles examined. In its negative aspect, the motif excludes peptides bearing residues at certain positions which are detrimental influences on binding for at least 2 of the four alleles examined. As shown in TABLE 37, the B7-like cross-reactive supermotif allows the improved prediction of peptides which will be capable of binding to 2 or more alleles of the B7-like superfamily.
  • Example 34 Ex Vivo Induction of Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTL)
  • Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) are isolated from an HLA-typed patient by either venipuncture or apheresis (depending upon the initial amount of CTLp required), and purified by gradient centrifugation-using Ficoll-Paque (Pharmacia). Typically, one can obtain one million PBMC for every ml of peripheral blood, or alternatively, a typical apheresis procedure can yield up to a total of 1-10×1010 PBMC.
  • The isolated and purified PBMC are co-cultured with an appropriate number of antigen presenting cell (APC), previously incubated (“pulsed”) with an appropriate amount of synthetic peptide (containing the HLA binding motif and the sequence of the antigen in question). PBMC are usually incubated at 1-2×106 cells/ml in culture medium such as RPMI-1640 (with autologous serum or plasma) or the serum-free medium AIM-V (Gibco).
  • APC are usually used at concentrations ranging from 1×104 to 2×105 cells/ml, depending on the type of cell used. Possible sources of APC include: 1) autologous dendritic cells (DC), which are isolated from PBMC and purified as described (Inaba, et al., J. Exp. Med. 166:182 (1987)); and 2) mutant and genetically engineered mammalian cells that express “empty” HLA molecules (which are syngeneic [genetically identical] to the patient's allelic HLA form), such as the, mouse RMA-S cell line or the human T2 cell line. APC containing empty HLA molecules are known to be potent inducers of CTL responses, possibly because the peptide can associate more readily with empty MHC molecules than with MHC molecules which are occupied by other peptides (DeBruijn, et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 21:2963-70 (1991)).
  • In those cases when the APC used are not autologous, the cells will have to be gamma irradiated with an appropriate dose (using, e.g., radioactive cesium or cobalt) to prevent their proliferation both ex vivo, and when the cells are re-introduced into the patients.
  • The mixture cultures, containing PBMC, APC and peptide are kept in an appropriate culture vessel such as plastic T-flasks, gas-permeable plastic bags, or roller bottles, at 37° centigrade in a humid air/CO2 incubator. After the activation phase of the culture, which usually occurs during the first 3-5 days, the resulting effector CTL can be further expanded, by the addition of recombinant DNA-derived growth factors such as interleukin-2 (IL-2), interleukin-4 (IL-4), or interleukin-7 (IL-7) to the cultures. An expansion culture can be kept for an additional 5 to 12 days, depending on the numbers of effector CTL required for a particular patient. In addition, expansion cultures may be performed using hollow fiber artificial capillary systems (Cellco), where larger numbers of cells (up to 1×1011) can be maintained.
  • Before the cells are infused into the patient, they are tested for activity, viability, toxicity and sterility. The cytotoxic activity of the resulting CTL can be determined by a standard 51Cr-release assay (Biddison, W. E. 1991, Current Protocols in Immunology, p7, 17.1-7.17.5, Ed. J. Coligan et al., J. Wiley and Sons, New York), using target cells that express the appropriate HLA molecule, in the presence and absence of the immunogenic peptide. Viability is determined by the exclusion of trypan blue dye by live cells. Cells are tested for the presence of endotoxin by conventional techniques. Finally, the presence of bacterial or fungal contamination is determined by appropriate microbiological methods (chocolate agar, etc.). Once the cells pass all quality control and safety tests, they are washed and placed in the appropriate infusion solution (Ringer/glucose lactate) and infused intravenously into the patient.
  • Example 35 Assays for CTL Activity
  • 1. Peptide synthesis. Peptide syntheses were carried out by sequential coupling of N-á-Fmoc-protected amino acids on an Applied Biosystems (Foster City, Calif.) 430A peptide synthesizer using standard Fmoc coupling cycles (software version 1.40). All amino acids, reagents, and resins were obtained from Applied Biosystems or Bachem. Solvents were obtained from Burdick & Jackson. Solid-phase synthesis was started from an appropriately substituted Fmoc-amino acid-Sasrin resin. The loading of the starting resin was 0.5-0.7 mmol/g polystyrene, and 0.1 or 0.25 meq were used in each synthesis. A typical reaction cycle proceeded as follows: 1) The N-terminal Fmoc group was removed with 25% piperidine in dimethylformamide (DMF) for 5 minutes, followed by another treatment with 25% piperidine in DMF for 15 minutes. The resin was washed 5 times with DMF. An N-methylpyrolidone (NMP) solution of a 4 to 10 fold excess of a pre-formed 1-hydroxybenzotriazole ester of the appropriate Fmoc-amino acid was added to the resin and the mixture was allowed to react for 30-90 min. The resin was washed with DMF in preparation for the next elongation cycle. The fully protected, resin bound peptide was subjected to a piperidine cycle to remove the terminal Fmoc group. The product was washed with dichloromethane and dried. The resin was then treated with trifluoroacetic acid in the presence of appropriate scavengers [e.g. 5% (v/v) water] for 60 minutes at 20° C. After evaporation of excess trifluoroacetic acid, the crude peptide was washed with dimethyl ether, dissolved in water and lyophilized. The peptides wee purified to >95% homogeneity by reverse-phase HPLC using H2O/CH3CN gradients containing 0.2% TFA modifier on a Vydac, 300 Å pore-size, C-18 preparative column. The purity of the synthetic peptides was assayed on an analytical reverse-phase column, and their composition ascertained by amino acid analysis and/or sequencing. Peptides were routinely dissolved in DMSO at the concentration of 20 mg/ml.
  • 2. Media. RPMI-1640 containing 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) 2 mM Glutamine, 50 ig/ml Gentamicin and 5×10−5M 2-mercaptoethanol served as culture medium and will be referred to as R10 medium.
  • RPMI-1640 containing 25 mM Hepes buffer and supplemented with 2% FCS was used as cell washing medium.
  • 3. Rat Concanavalin A supernatant. The spleen cells obtained from Lewis rats (Sprague-Dawley) were resuspended at a concentration of 5×106 cells/ml in R10 medium supplemented with 5 μg/ml of ConA in 75 cm2 tissue culture flasks. After 48 hr at 37° C., the supernatants were collected, supplemented with 1% ______-methyl-D-mannoside and filter sterilized (0.45 μm filter). Aliquots were stored frozen at −20° C.
  • 4. LPS-activated lymphoblasts. Murine splenocytes were resuspended at a concentration of 1-1.5×106/ml in R10 medium supplemented with 25 μg/ml LPS and 7 μg/ml dextran sulfate in 75 cm2 tissue culture flasks. After 72 hours at 37° C., the lymphoblasts were collected for use by centrifugation.
  • 5. Peptide coating of lymphoblasts. Coating of the LPS activated lymphoblasts was achieved by incubating 30×106 lymphoblasts with 100 μg of peptide in 1 ml of R10 medium for 1 hr at 37° C. Cells were then washed once and resuspended in R10 medium at the desired concentration for use in in vitro CTL activation.
  • 6. Peptide coating of Jurkat A2/Kb cells. Peptide coating was achieved by incubating 10×106 irradiated (20,000 rads) Jurkat A2.1/Kb cells with 20 μg of peptide in 1 ml of R10 medium for 1 hour at 37° C. Cells were washed three times and resuspended at the required concentration in R10 medium.
  • 7. In Vitro CTL activation. One to four weeks after priming spleen cells (5×106 cells/well or 30×106 cells/T25 flask) were concultured at 37° C. with syngeneic, irradiated (3,000 rads), peptide coated lymphoblasts (2×106 cells/well or 10×106 cells/T25 flask) in R10 medium to give a final volume of 2 ml in 24-well plates or 10 ml in T25 flasks.
  • Restimulation of effector cells. Seven to ten days after the initial in vitro activation, described in paragraph 7 above, a portion of the effector cells were restimulated with irradiated (20,000 rads), peptide-coated Jurkat A2/Kb cells (0.2×106 cells/well) in the presence of 3×106 “feeder cells”/well (C57Bl/6 irradiated spleen cells) in R10 medium supplemented with 5% rat ConA supernatant to help provide all of the cytokines needed for optimal effector cell growth.
  • 9. Assay for cytotoxic activity. Target cells (3×106) were incubated at 37° C. in the presence of 200 μl of sodium 51Cr chromate. After 60 minutes, cells were washed three times and resuspended in R10 medium. Peptides were added at the required concentration. For the assay, 104 51Cr-labeled target cells wee added to different concentrations of effector cells (final volume of 200 μl) in U-bottom 96-well plates. After a 6-hour incubation period at 37° C., 0.1 ml aliquots of supernatant were removed from each well and radioactivity was determined in a Micromedic automatic gamma counter. The percent specific lysis was determined by the formula: percent specific release=100×(experimental release−spontaneous release)/(maximum release−spontaneous release). Where peptide titrations wee performed, the antigenicity of a given peptide (for comparison purposes) was expressed as the peptide concentration required to induce 40% specific 51Cr release at a given E:T.
  • Transgenic mice were injected subcutaneously in the base of the tail with an incomplete Freund's adjuvant emulsion containing 50 nM of the putative CTL epitopes containing the A2.1 motifs, and 50 nM of a hepatitis B core T helper epitope. Eight to 20 days later, animals were sacrificed and spleen cells were restimulated in vitro with syngeneic LPS lymphoblasts coated with the putative CTL epitope. A source of IL-2 (rat con A supernatant) was added at day 6 of the assay to a final concentration of 5% and CTL activity was measured on day 7. The capacity of these effector T cells to lyse peptide-coated target cells that express the A2 KB molecule (Jurkat A2 KB) was measured as lytic units. The results are presented in Tables 147 and 148.
  • The results of this experiment indicate that those peptides having a binding of at least 0.01 are capable of inducing CTL. All of the peptides in TABLES 181 and 182 having a binding of at least about 0.01 would be immunogenic.
  • Example 36 Algorithms to Identify Immunogenic Peptides
  • In light of results presented in the examples above, algorithms were developed to provide a more exact predictor of binding based upon the effects of different residues at each position of a peptide sequence, in addition to the anchor or conserved residues. More specifically, we utilize the data bank obtained during the screening of our collection of A1, 3, 11 or 24 motif-containing peptides to develop an algorithm for each particular allele which assigns a score for each amino acid at each position along a peptide. The score for each residue is taken as the ratio of the frequency of that residue in good and intermediate binders to the frequency of occurrence of that residue in nonbinders.
  • In the present algorithm residues have been grouped by similarity. This avoids the problem encountered with some rare residues, such as tryptophan, where there are too few occurrences to obtain a statistically significant ratio. A listing is made of scores obtained by grouping for each of the twenty amino acids by position for 9-mer peptides containing conserved residues that define their motif (2/9 motifs). A peptide is scored in the algorithm as a product of the scores of each of its residues.
  • The power of an algorithm to correlate with binding is further underlined by its ability to predict a population of peptides with the highest occurrence of good binders. If one were to rely, for example, solely on the 2/9 motif for predicting 9-mer peptides which bind to a specific MHC allele the large number of peptides containing the motif would be predicted to be good binders. In fact only a relatively small percentage of these peptides are good binders and a somewhat larger percentage are intermediate binders, while a still larger percentage of the peptides predicted by the motif are either weak or nonbinding peptides. In contrast, using the grouped algorithm of this invention a population of peptides are created with a greater percentage of good binders, a still greater percentage of intermediate binders, and a smaller percentage, relative to that predicted by motif-containing peptides, are weak and nonbinders.
  • The present example of an algorithm uses the ratio of the frequency of occurrence of an amino acid in binders and nonbinders to measure the impact of a particular residue at each position of a peptide. It is immediately apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that there are alternative ways of creating a similar algorithm. For example, one could use average binding affinity values, or relative binding of single amino acid substitutions in a motif containing peptide with a poly-alanine backbone to generate an algorithm table.
  • An algorithm using average binding affinity has the advantage of including all of the peptides in the analysis, and not just good/intermediate binders and nonbinders. Moreover, it gives a more quantitative measure of affinity than the simpler group ratio algorithm. We have created such an algorithm by calculating for each amino acid, by position, the average log of binding when that particular residue occurs in our set of motif containing peptides. The algorithm score for a peptide is then taken as the sum of the scores by position for each of its residues.
  • Example 37 Analysis of the Immunogenicity of CTL and HTL Peptides
  • Class I and II antigen isolation was carried out as described in the related applications, noted above. Naturally processed peptides were then isolated and sequenced as described there. An allele-specific motif and algorithms were determined and quantitative binding assays were carried out.
  • Using the motifs identified above for HLA-A2.1 and other allele amino acid sequences from a number of antigens were analyzed for the presence of these motifs. TABLE 2 provides the results of these searches. The letter “J” represents norleucine.
  • Analyses of CTL and HTL responses against the immunogen, as well as against common recall antigens are commonly used and are known in the art. Assays employed included chromium release, lymphokine secretion and lymphoproliferation assays. Assays useful in these determinations are described in Current Protocols in Immunology, J. E. Coligan, et al., eds., John Wiley & Sons Press (2000), chapters 3, 4, 6, and 7.
  • In one embodiment, the appropriate antigen-presenting cells are incubated with 10-100 μM of peptide in serum-free media for 4 hours under appropriate culture conditions. The peptide-loaded antigen-presenting cells are then incubated with the responder cell populations in vitro for 7 to 10 days under optimized culture conditions. If screening for MHC class I presented peptides, positive CTL activation can be determined by assaying the cultures for the presence of CTLs that kill radiolabeled target cells, both specific peptide-pulsed targets as well as target cells expressing the endogenously processed form of the relevant virus or tumor antigen from which the peptide sequence was derived. If screening for MHC class II-presented peptides, positive HTL activation can be determined by assaying cultures for cytokine production or proliferation.
  • In one embodiment, prior to incubation of the stimulator cells with the cells to be activated, i.e., precursor CD8+ cells, an amount of antigenic peptide is added to the stimulator cell culture, of sufficient quantity to become loaded onto the human Class I molecules to be expressed on the surface of the stimulator cells. In the present invention, a sufficient amount of peptide is an amount that will allow about 200, and preferably 200 or more, human Class I MHC molecules loaded with peptide to be expressed on the surface of each stimulator cell. Preferably, the stimulator cells are incubated with >20 μg/ml peptide.
  • Resting or precursor CD8+ cells are then incubated in culture with the appropriate stimulator cells for a time period sufficient to activate the CD8+ cells. Preferably, the CD8+ cells are activated in an antigen-specific manner. The ratio of resting or precursor CD8+ (effector) cells to stimulator cells may vary from individual to individual and may further depend upon variables such as the amenability of an individual's lymphocytes to culturing for which the within-described treatment modality is used. Preferably, however, the lymphocyte:stimulator cell ratio is in the range of about 30:1 to 300:1. The effector/stimulator culture may be maintained for as long a time as is conditions and the nature and severity of the disease condition or other condition necessary to stimulate a therapeutically useable or effective number of CD8+ cells.
  • The induction of CTL in vitro requires the specific recognition of peptides that are bound to allele specific MHC class I molecules on APC. The number of specific MHC/peptide complexes per APC is crucial for the stimulation of CTL, particularly in primary immune responses. While small amounts of peptide/MHC complexes per cell are sufficient to render a cell susceptible to lysis by CTL, or to stimulate a secondary CTL response, the successful activation of a CTL precursor (pCTL) during primary response requires a significantly higher number of MHC/peptide complexes. Peptide loading of empty major histocompatability complex molecules on cells allows the induction of primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses. Peptide loading of empty major histocompatability complex molecules on cells enables the induction of primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses.
  • Since mutant cell lines do not exist for every human MHC allele, it is advantageous to use a technique to remove endogenous MHC-associated peptides from the surface of APC, followed by loading the resulting empty MHC molecules with the immunogenic peptides of interest. The use of non-transformed (non-tumorigenic), non-infected cells, and preferably, autologous cells of patients as APC is desirable for the design of CTL induction protocols directed towards development of ex vivo CTL therapies. This application discloses methods for stripping the endogenous MHC-associated peptides from the surface of APC followed by the loading of desired peptides.
  • A stable MHC class I molecule is a trimeric complex formed of the following elements: 1) a peptide usually of 8-10 residues, 2) a transmembrane heavy polymorphic protein chain which bears the peptide-binding site in its α1 and α2 domains, and 3) a non-covalently associated non-polymorphic light chain, β2 microglobulin. Removing the bound peptides and/or dissociating the β2 microglobulin from the complex renders the MHC class I molecules nonfunctional and unstable, resulting in rapid degradation. All MHC class I molecules isolated from PBMCs have endogenous peptides bound to them. Therefore, the first step is to remove all endogenous peptides bound to MHC class I molecules on the APC without causing their degradation before exogenous peptides can be added to then.
  • Two possible ways to free up MHC class I molecules of bound peptides include lowering the culture temperature from 37° C. to 26° C. overnight to destablize β2 microglobulin and stripping the endogenous peptides from the cell using a mild acid treatment. The methods release previously bound peptides into the extracellular environment allowing new exogenous peptides to bind to the empty class I molecules. The cold-temperature incubation method enables exogenous peptides to bind efficiently to the MHC complex, but requires an overnight incubation at 26° C. which may slow the cell's metabolic rate. It is also likely that cells not actively synthesizing MHC molecules (e.g., resting PBMC) would not produce high amounts of empty surface MHC molecules by the cold temperature procedure.
  • Harsh acid stripping involves extraction of the peptides with trifluoroacetic acid, pH 2, or acid denaturation of the immunoaffinity purified class I-peptide complexes. These methods are not feasible for CTL induction, since it is important to remove the endogenous peptides while preserving APC viability and an optimal metabolic state which is critical for antigen presentation. Mild acid solutions of pH 3 such as glycine or citrate-phosphate buffers have been used to identify endogenous peptides and to identify tumor associated T cell epitopes. The treatment is especially effective, in that only the MHC class I molecules are destabilized (and associated peptides released), while other surface antigens remain intact, including MHC class II molecules. Most importantly, treatment of cells with the mild acid solutions does not affect the cell's viability or metabolic state. The mild acid treatment is rapid since the stripping of the endogenous peptides occurs in two minutes at 4° C. and the APC is ready to perform its function after the appropriate peptides are loaded. The technique is utilized herein to make peptide-specific APCs for the generation of primary antigen-specific CTL. The resulting APC are efficient in inducing peptide-specific CD8+ CTL.
  • Activated CD8+ cells may be effectively separated from the stimulator cells using one of a variety of known methods. For example, monoclonal antibodies specific for the stimulator cells, for the peptides loaded onto the stimulator cells, or for the CD8+ cells (or a segment thereof) may be utilized to bind their appropriate complementary ligand. Antibody-tagged molecules may then be extracted from the stimulator-effector cell admixture via appropriate means, e.g., via well-known immunoprecipitation or immunoassay methods.
  • Effective, cytotoxic amounts of the activated CD8+ cells can vary between in vitro and in vivo uses, as well as with the amount and type of cells that are the ultimate target of these killer cells. The amount will also vary depending on the condition of the patient and should be determined via consideration of all appropriate factors by the practitioner. Preferably, however, about 1×106 to about 1×1012, more preferably about 1×108 to about 1×1011, and even more preferably, about 1×109 to about 1×1010 activated CD8+ cells are utilized for adult humans, compared to about 5×106-5×107 cells used in mice.
  • Preferably, as discussed above, the activated CD8+ cells are harvested from the cell culture prior to administration of the CD8+ cells to the individual being treated. It is important to note, however, that unlike other present and proposed treatment modalities, the present method uses a cell culture system that is not tumorigenic. Therefore, if complete separation of stimulator cells and activated CD8+ cells is not achieved, there is no inherent danger known to be associated with the administration of a small number of stimulator cells, whereas administration of mammalian tumor-promoting cells may be extremely hazardous.
  • Methods of re-introducing cellular components are known in the art and include procedures such as those exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 4,844,893 to Honsik, et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 4,690,915 to Rosenberg. For example, administration of activated CD8+ cells via intravenous infusion is appropriate.
  • The peptides of the invention can be identified and tested for in vivo immunogenicity using HLA transgenic mice. The utility of HLA transgenic mice for the purpose of epitope identification (Sette et al., J Immunol, 153:5586-92 (1994); Wentworth et al., Int Immunol, 8:651-9 (1996); Engelhard et al., J Immunol, 146:1226-32 (1991); Man et al., Int Immunol, 7:597-605 (1995); Shirai et al., J Immunol, 154:2733-42 (1995)), and vaccine development (Ishioka et al., J Immunol, 162:3915-25 (1999)) has been established. Most of the published reports have investigated the use of HLA A2.1/Kb mice but it should be noted that B*27, and B*3501 mice are also available. Furthermore, HLA A*11/Kb mice (Alexander et al., J. Immunol., 159:4753-61 (1997)), and HLA B7/Kb and HLA A1/Kb mice have also been generated. Data from 38 different potential epitopes was analyzed to determine the level of overlap between the A2.1-restricted CTL repertoire of A2.1/Kb-transgenic mice and A2.1+ humans (Wentworth et al., Eur J Immunol, 26:97-101 (1996)). In both humans and mice, an MHC peptide binding affinity threshold of approximately 500 nM correlates with the capacity of a peptide to elicit a CTL response in vivo. A high level of concordance between the human data in vivo and mouse data in vivo was observed for 85% of the high-binding peptides, 58% of the intermediate binders, and 83% of the low/negative binders. Similar results were also obtained with HLA A11 and HLA B7 transgenic mice (Alexander et al., J Immunol, Vol. 159(10):4753-61 (1997)). Thus, because of the extensive overlap that exists between T cell receptor repertoires of HLA transgenic mouse and human CTLs, transgenic mice are valuable for assessing immunogenicity of the multi-epitope constructs described herein. Peptides binding to MHC class II alleles can be examined using HLA-DR transgenic mice. See, i.e., Taneja V., David C. S., Immunol Rev, 169:67-79 (1999)).
  • More sensitive techniques such as the ELISPOT assay, intracellular cytokine staining, and tetramer staining have become available in the art to determine lymphocyte antigen responsiveness. It is estimated that these newer methods are 10- to 100-fold more sensitive than the common CTL and HTL assays (Murali-Krishna et al., Immunity, 8:177-87 (1998)), because the traditional methods measure only the subset of T cells that can proliferate in vitro, and may, in fact, be representative of only a fraction of the memory T cell compartment (Ogg G. S., McMichael A. J., Curr Opin Immunol, 10:393-6 (1998)). Specifically in the case of HIV, these techniques have been used to measure antigen-specific CTL responses from patients that would have been undetectable with previous techniques (Ogg et al., Science, 279:2103-6 (1998); Gray et al., J Immunol, 162:1780-8 (1999); Ogg et al., J Virol, 73:9153-60 (1999); Kalams et al., J Virol, 73:6721-8 (1999); Larsson et al., AIDS, 13:767-77 (1999); Corne et al., J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol, 20:442-7 (1999)).
  • The peptides of the present invention and pharmaceutical and vaccine compositions thereof are useful for administration to mammals, particularly humans, to treat and/or prevent viral infection and cancer. Examples of diseases which can be treated using the immunogenic peptides of the invention include prostate cancer, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, AIDS, renal carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, lymphoma, CMV and chondyloma acuminatum. A protective (or prophylatic) vaccine includes one that will protect against future exposure to pathogen or cancer. A therapeutic vaccine includes one that will ameriolate, attenuate, or ablate symptoms or disease state induced by or related to a pathogen or malignancy.
  • In circumstances in which efficacy of a prophylactic vaccine is primarily correlated with the induction of a long-lasting memory response, restimulation assays can be the most appropriate and sensitive measures to monitor vaccine-induced immunological responses. Conversely, in the case of therapeutic vaccines, the main immunological correlate of activity can be the induction of effector T cell function, most aptly measured by primary assays. Thus, the use of sensitive assays allows for the most appropriate testing strategy for immunological monitoring of vaccine efficacy.
  • The induction of CTL in vitro requires the specific recognition of peptides that are bound to allele specific MHC class I molecules on APC. The number of specific MHC/peptide complexes per APC is crucial for the stimulation of CTL, particularly in primary immune responses. While small amounts of peptide/MHC complexes per cell are sufficient to render a cell susceptible to lysis by CTL, or to stimulate a secondary CTL response, the successful activation of a CTL precursor (pCTL) during primary response requires a significantly higher number of MHC/peptide complexes. Peptide loading of empty major histocompatability complex molecules on cells allows the induction of primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses. Peptide loading of empty major histocompatability complex molecules on cells enables the induction of primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses.
  • Since mutant cell lines do not exist for every human MHC allele, it is advantageous to use a technique to remove endogenous MHC-associated peptides from the surface of APC, followed by loading the resulting empty MHC molecules with the immunogenic peptides of interest. Antigen-presenting cells can be normal cells such as peripheral blood mononuclear cells or dendritic cells (Inaba, et al., J. Exp. Med. 166:182 (1987); Boog, Eur. J. Immunol. 18:219 (1988)). The use of non-transformed (non-tumorigenic), non-infected cells, and preferably, autologous cells of patients as APC is desirable for the design of CTL induction protocols directed towards development of ex vivo CTL therapies. This application discloses methods for stripping the endogenous MHC-associated peptides from the surface of APC followed by the loading of desired peptides.
  • A stable MHC class I molecule is a trimeric complex formed of the following elements: 1) a peptide usually of 8-10 residues, 2) a transmembrane heavy polymorphic protein chain which bears the peptide-binding site in its α1 and α2 domains, and 3) a non-covalently associated non-polymorphic light chain, β2 microglobulin. Removing the bound peptides and/or dissociating the β2 microglobulin from the complex renders the MHC class I molecules nonfunctional and unstable, resulting in rapid degradation. All MHC class I molecules isolated from PBMCs have endogenous peptides bound to them. Therefore, the first step is to remove all endogenous peptides bound to MHC class I molecules on the APC without causing their degradation before exogenous peptides can be added to them.
  • Two possible ways to free up MHC class I molecules of bound peptides include lowering the culture temperature from 37° C. to 26° C. overnight to destabilize β2 microglobulin and stripping the endogenous peptides from the cell using a mild acid treatment. The methods release previously bound peptides into the extracellular environment allowing new exogenous peptides to bind to the empty class I molecules. The cold-temperature incubation method enables exogenous peptides to bind efficiently to the MHC complex, but requires an overnight incubation at 26° C. which may slow the cell's metabolic rate. It is also likely that cells not actively synthesizing MHC molecules (e.g., resting PBMC) would not produce high amounts of empty surface MHC molecules by the cold temperature procedure.
  • Harsh acid stripping involves extraction of the peptides with trifluoroacetic acid, pH 2, or acid denaturation of the immunoaffinity purified class I-peptide complexes. These methods are not feasible for CTL induction, since it is important to remove the endogenous peptides while preserving APC viability and an optimal metabolic state which is critical for antigen presentation. Mild acid solutions of pH 3 such as glycine or citrate-phosphate buffers have been used to identify endogenous peptides and to identify tumor associated T cell epitopes. The treatment is especially effective, in that only the MHC class I molecules are destabilized (and associated peptides released), while other surface antigens remain intact, including MHC class II molecules. Most importantly, treatment of cells with the mild acid solutions do not affect the cell's viability or metabolic state. The mild acid treatment is rapid since the stripping of the endogenous peptides occurs in two minutes at 4° C. and the APC is ready to perform its function after the appropriate peptides are loaded. The technique is utilized herein to make peptide-specific APCs for the generation of primary antigen-specific CTL. The resulting APC are efficient in inducing peptide-specific CD8+ CTL.
  • Activated CD8+ cells may be effectively separated from the stimulator cells using one of a variety of known methods. For example, monoclonal antibodies specific for the stimulator cells, for the peptides loaded onto the stimulator cells, or for the CD8+ cells (or a segment thereof) may be utilized to bind their appropriate complementary ligand. Antibody-tagged molecules may then be extracted from the stimulator-effector cell admixture via appropriate means, e.g., via well-known immunoprecipitation or immunoassay methods.
  • Effective, cytotoxic amounts of the activated CD8+ cells can vary between in vitro and in vivo uses, as well as with the amount and type of cells that are the ultimate target of these killer cells. The amount will also vary depending on the condition of the patient and should be determined via consideration of all appropriate factors by the practitioner. Preferably, however, about 1×106 to about 1×1012, more preferably about 1×108 to about 1×1011, and even more preferably, about 1×109 to about 1×1010 activated CD8+ cells are utilized for adult humans, compared to about 5×106-5×107 cells used in mice.
  • Preferably, as discussed above, the activated CD8+ cells are harvested from the cell culture prior to administration of the CD8+ cells to the individual being treated. It is important to note, however, that unlike other present and proposed treatment modalities, the present method uses a cell culture system that is not tumorigenic. Therefore, if complete separation of stimulator cells and activated CD8+ cells is not achieved, there is no inherent danger known to be associated with the administration of a small number of stimulator cells, whereas administration of mammalian tumor-promoting cells may be extremely hazardous.
  • Methods of re-introducing cellular components are known in the art and include procedures such as those exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 4,844,893 to Honsik, et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 4,690,915 to Rosenberg. For example, administration of activated CD8+ cells via intravenous infusion is appropriate.
  • Example 38 Use of Peptide Epitopes as Diagnostic Agents for Evaluating Immune Responses
  • In one embodiment of the invention, HLA class I and class II binding peptides can be used as reagents to evaluate an immune response. The evaluated immune response can be induced by any immunogen. For example, the immunogen may result in the production of antigen-specific CTLs or HTLs that recognize the peptide epitope(s) employed as the reagent. Thus, a peptide of the invention mayor may not be used as the immunogen. Assay systems that can be used for such analyses include tetramer-based protocols, staining for intracellular lymphokines, interferon release assays, or ELISPOT assays.
  • For example, following exposure to a putative immunogen, a peptide of the invention can be used in a tetramer staining assay to assess peripheral blood mononuclear cells for the presence of any antigen-specific CTLs. The HLA-tetrameric complex is used to directly visualize antigen-specific CTLs and thereby determine the frequency of such antigen-specific CTLs in a sample of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (see, e.g., Ogg et al., Science 279:2103-2106, 1998; and Altman et al., Science 174:94-96, 1996).
  • A tetramer reagent comprising a peptide of the invention is generated as follows: A peptide that binds to an HLA molecule is refolded in the presence of the corresponding HLA heavy chain and P2-microglobulin to generate a trimolecular complex. The complex is biotinylated at the carboxyl terminal end of the HLA heavy chain, at a site that was previously engineered into the protein. Tetramer formation is then induced by adding streptavidin. When fluorescently labeled streptavidin is used, the tetrameric complex is used to stain antigen-specific cells. The labeled cells are then readily identified, e.g., by flow cytometry. Such procedures are used for diagnostic or prognostic purposes; the cells identified by the procedure can be used for therapeutic purposes.
  • Peptides of the invention are also used as reagents to evaluate immune recall responses. (see, e.g., Bertoni et al., J Clin. Invest. 100:503-513, 1997 and Penna et al., J Exp. Med. 174:1565-1570, 1991). For example, a PBMC sample from an individual expressing a disease-associated antigen (e.g. a tumor-associated antigen such as CEA, p53, MAGE2/3,HER2/neu, or an organism associated with neoplasia such as HPV or HSV) can be analyzed for the presence of antigen-specific CTLs or HTLs using specific peptides. A blood sample containing mononuclear cells may be evaluated by cultivating the PBMCs and stimulating the cells with a peptide of the invention. After an appropriate cultivation period, the expanded cell population may be analyzed, for example, for CTL or for HTL activity.
  • Thus, the peptides can be used to evaluate the efficacy of a vaccine. PBMCs obtained from a patient vaccinated with an immunogen may be analyzed by methods such as those described herein. The patient is HLA typed, and peptide epitopes that are bound by the HLA molecule(s) present in that patient are selected for analysis. The immunogenicity of the vaccine is indicated by the presence of CTLs and/or HTLs directed to epitopes present in the vaccine.
  • The peptides of the invention may also be used to make antibodies, using techniques well known in the art (see, e.g. CURRENTPROTOCOLSINIMMUNOLOGY, Wiley/Greene, NY; and Antibodies A Laboratory Manual Harlow, Harlow and Lane, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1989). Such antibodies are useful as reagents to determine the presence of disease-associated antigens or may be used therapeutically. Antibodies in this category include those that recognize a peptide when bound by an HLA molecule, i.e., antibodies that bind to a peptide-MHC complex.
  • The immunogenic peptides of this invention may also be used to make monoclonal antibodies. Such antibodies may be useful as potential diagnostic or therapeutic agents.
  • Epitopes in accordance with the present invention were successfully used to induce an immune response. Immune responses with these epitopes have been induced by administering the epitopes in various forms. The epitopes have been administered as peptides, as nucleic acids, and as viral vectors comprising nucleic acids that encode the epitope(s) of the invention. Upon administration of peptide-based epitope forms, immune responses have been induced by direct loading of an epitope onto an empty HLA molecule that is expressed on a cell, and via internalization of the epitope and processing via the HLA class I pathway; in either event, the HLA molecule expressing the epitope was then able to interact with and induce a CTL response. Peptides can be delivered directly or using such agents as liposomes. They can additionally be delivered using ballistic delivery, in which the peptides are typically in a crystalline form. When DNA is used to induce an immune response, it is administered either as naked DNA, generally in a dose range of approximately 1-5 mg, or via the ballistic “gene gun” delivery, typically in a dose range of approximately 10-100 μg. The DNA can be delivered in a variety of conformations, e.g., linear, circular etc. Various viral vectors have also successfully been used that comprise nucleic acids which encode epitopes in accordance with the invention.
  • Accordingly compositions in accordance with the invention exist in several forms. Embodiments of each of these composition forms in accordance with the invention have been successfully used to induce an immune response.
  • One composition in accordance with the invention comprises a plurality of peptides. This plurality or cocktail of peptides is generally admixed with one or more pharmaceutically acceptable excipients. The peptide cocktail can comprise multiple copies of the same peptide or can comprise a mixture of peptides. The peptides can be analogs of naturally occurring epitopes. The peptides can comprise artificial amino acids and/or chemical modifications such as addition of a surface active molecule, e.g., lipidation; acetylation, glycosylation, biotinylation, phosphorylation etc. The peptides can be CTL or HTL epitopes. In a preferred embodiment the peptide cocktail comprises a plurality of different CTL epitopes and at least one HTL epitope. The HTL epitope can be naturally or non-naturally (e.g., PADRE®, Epimmune Inc., San Diego, Calif.). The number of distinct epitopes in an embodiment of the invention is generally a whole unit integer from one through one hundred fifty (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, or, 100).
  • An additional embodiment of a composition in accordance with the invention comprises a polypeptide multi-epitope construct, i.e., a polyepitopic peptide. Polyepitopic peptides in accordance with the invention are prepared by use of technologies well-known in the art. By use of these known technologies, epitopes in accordance with the invention are connected one to another. The polyepitopic peptides can be linear or non-linear, e.g., multivalent. These polyepitopic constructs can comprise artificial amino acids, spacing or spacer amino acids, flanking amino acids, or chemical modifications between adjacent epitope units. The polyepitopic construct can be a heteropolymer or a homopolymer. The polyepitopic constructs generally comprise epitopes in a quantity of any whole unit integer between 2-150 (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, or, 100). The polyepitopic construct can comprise CTL and/or HTL epitopes. One or more of the epitopes in the construct can be modified, e.g., by addition of a surface active material, e.g. a lipid, or chemically modified, e.g., acetylation, etc. Moreover, bonds in the multiepitopic construct can be other than peptide bonds, e.g., covalent bonds, ester or ether bonds, disulfide bonds, hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds etc.
  • Alternatively, a composition in accordance with the invention comprises construct which comprises a series, sequence, stretch, etc., of amino acids that have homology to (i.e., corresponds to or is contiguous with) to a native sequence. This stretch of amino acids comprises at least one subsequence of amino acids that, if cleaved or isolated from the longer series of amino acids, functions as an HLA class I or HLA class II epitope in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, the peptide sequence is modified, so as to become a construct as defined herein, by use of any number of techniques known or to be provided in the art. The polyepitopic constructs can contain homology to a native sequence in any whole unit integer increment from 70-100%, e.g., 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, or, 100 percent.
  • A further embodiment of a composition in accordance with the invention is an antigen presenting cell that comprises one or more epitopes in accordance with the invention. The antigen presenting cell can be a “professional” antigen presenting cell, such as a dendritic cell. The antigen presenting cell can comprise the epitope of the invention by any means known or to be determined in the art. Such means include pulsing of dendritic cells with one or more individual epitopes or with one or more peptides that comprise multiple epitopes, by nucleic acid administration such as ballistic nucleic acid delivery or by other techniques in the art for administration of nucleic acids, including vector-based, e.g. viral vector, delivery of nucleic acids.
  • Further embodiments of compositions in accordance with the invention comprise nucleic acids that encode one or more peptides of the invention, or nucleic acids which encode a polyepitopic peptide in accordance with the invention. As appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, various nucleic acids compositions will encode the same peptide due to the redundancy of the genetic code. Each of these nucleic acid compositions falls within the scope of the present invention. This embodiment of the invention comprises DNA or RNA, and in certain embodiments a combination of DNA and RNA. It is to be appreciated that any composition comprising nucleic acids that will encode a peptide in accordance with the invention or any other peptide based composition in accordance with the invention, falls within the scope of this invention.
  • It is to be appreciated that peptide-based forms of the invention (as well as the nucleic acids that encode them) can comprise analogs of epitopes of the invention generated using principles already known, or to be known, in the art. Principles related to analoging are now known in the art, and are disclosed herein; moreover, analoging principles are disclosed in co-pending application serial number U.S. Ser. No. 09/226,775 filed 6 Jan. 1999. Generally the compositions of the invention are isolated or purified.
  • The peptides may also find use as diagnostic reagents. For example, a peptide of the invention may be used to determine the susceptibility of a particular individual to a treatment regimen which employs the peptide or related peptides, and thus may be helpful in modifying an existing treatment protocol or in determining a prognosis for an affected individual. In addition, the peptides may also be used to predict which individuals will be at substantial risk for developing chronic infection.
  • To identify peptides of the invention, class I antigen isolation, and isolation and sequencing of naturally processed peptides was carried out as described in the related applications. These peptides were then used to define specific binding motifs for each of the following alleles A3.2, A1, A11, and A24.1. These motifs are described on page 3, above. The motifs described in TABLES 6-9, below, are defined from pool sequencing data of naturally processed peptides as described in the related applications.
  • Example 39 Ex Vivo Induction of Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTL)
  • Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) are isolated from an HLA-typed patient by either venipuncture or apheresis (depending upon the initial amount of CTLp required), and purified by gradient centrifugation using Ficoll-Paque (Pharmacia). Typically, one can obtain one million PBMC for every ml of peripheral blood, or alternatively, a typical apheresis procedure can yield up to a total of 1-10×1010 PBMC.
  • The isolated and purified PBMC are co-cultured with an appropriate number of antigen presenting cell (APC), previously incubated (“pulsed”) with an appropriate amount of synthetic peptide (containing the HLA binding motif and the sequence of the antigen in question). PBMC are usually incubated at 1-2×106 cells/ml in culture medium such as RPMI-1640 (with autologous serum or plasma) or the serum-free medium AIM-V (Gibco).
  • APC are usually used at concentrations ranging from 1×104 to 2×105 cells/ml, depending on the type of cell used. Possible sources of APC include: 1) autologous dendritic cells (DC), which are isolated from PBMC and purified as described (Inaba, et al., J. Exp. Med., 166:182 (1987)); and 2) mutant and genetically engineered mammalian cells that express “empty” HLA molecules (which are syngeneic [genetically identical] to the patient's allelic HLA form), such as the, mouse RMA-S cell line or the human T2 cell line. APC containing empty HLA molecules are known to be potent inducers of CTL responses, possibly because the peptide can associate more readily with empty MHC molecules than with MHC molecules which are occupied by other peptides (DeBruijn, et al., Eur. J. Immunol., 21:2963-2970 (1991)).
  • In those cases when the APC used are not autologous, the cells will have to be gamma irradiated with an appropriate dose (using, e.g., radioactive cesium or cobalt) to prevent their proliferation both ex vivo, and when the cells are re-introduced into the patients.
  • The mixture cultures, containing PBMC, APC and peptide are kept in an appropriate culture vessel such as plastic T-flasks, gas-permeable plastic bags, or roller bottles, at 37° centigrade in a humid air/CO2 incubator. After the activation phase of the culture, which usually occurs during the first 3-5 days, the resulting effector CTL can be further expanded, by the addition of recombinant DNA-derived growth factors such as interleukin-2 (IL-2), interleukin-4 (IL-4), or interleukin-7 (IL-7) to the cultures. An expansion culture can be kept for an additional 5 to 12 days, depending on the numbers of effector CTL required for a particular patient. In addition, expansion cultures may be performed using hollow fiber artificial capillary systems (Cellco), where larger numbers of cells (up to 1×1011) can be maintained.
  • Before the cells are infused into the patient, they are tested for activity, viability, toxicity and sterility. The cytotoxic activity of the resulting CTL can be determined by a standard 51Cr-release assay (Biddison, W.E. 1991, Current Protocols in Immunology, p7, 17.1-7.17.5, Ed. J. Coligan, et al., J. Wiley and Sons, New York), using target cells that express the appropriate HLA molecule, in the presence and absence of the immunogenic peptide. Viability is determined by the exclusion of trypan blue dye by live cells. Cells are tested for the presence of endotoxin by conventional techniques. Finally, the presence of bacterial or fungal contamination is determined by appropriate microbiological methods (chocolate agar, etc.). Once the cells pass all quality control and safety tests, they are washed and placed in the appropriate infusion solution (Ringer/glucose lactate) and infused intravenously into the patient.
  • Example 40 Preparation of Effective HLA Allele-Specific Antigen Presenting Cells
  • This example demonstrates the use of cold temperature incubation or acid stripping/peptide loading method to prepare effective HLA-allele-specific antigen presenting cells (APC). The APC were used to sensitize precursor cytotoxic T lymphocytes which led to the development of antigen-specific cytotoxic cells. This was accomplished using either phytohemaglutinin (PHA) T-cell blasts or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or staphylococcus aureus Cowan I (SAC-I) activated PBMC as APC. The results are applicable to other APC and to the other MHC alleles.
  • The following describes sources for materials used in the following examples:
      • L-Ascorbic acid, Cat #B582, J. T. Baker, Phillipsburg, N.J.
      • Anti-HLA A2 (BB7.2), Cat #HB82, ATCC, Rockville, Md.
      • Anti-HLA DR (LB3.1), from J. Gorga, Children's Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.
      • Anti-HLA Alpha chain pan ABC (9.12.1), from R.
      • DeMars, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
      • Anti-mouse IgG FITC conjugate, Cat #F2883, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • β2 microglobulin, Cat #MO114, Scripps Labs, San Diego, Calif.
      • BSA Fraction V, Cat #A9418, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • 50 cc conical centrifuge tubes, Cat #2070, Falcon, Lincoln, Park, N.J.
      • Cryo 1° C. freezing container, Cat #5100-0001, Nalge, Rochester, N.Y.
      • Cryovial, Cat #5000-0012, Nalge, Rochester, N.Y.
      • Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), Cat #D2650, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • DNAse, Cat #260912, Calbiochem, San Diego, Calif.
      • Dynabeads M-450 goat anti-mouse IgG, Cat #110.06, Dynal, Great Neck, N.Y.
      • EDTA tetrasodium salt, Cat #ED4SS, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • FACScan, Becton Dickinson, San Jose, Calif.
      • Fetal calf serum (FCS), Cat #3000, Irvine Scientific, Irvine, Calif.
      • Ficoll-Paque, Cat #17-0840-03, Pharmacia, Piscataway, N.J.
      • Gentamicin, Cat #600-5750AD, Gibco, Grand Island, N.Y.
      • L-Glutamine, Cat #9317, Irvine Scientific, Irvine, Calif.
      • GS-6KR centrifuge, Beckman Instruments, Palo Alto, Calif.
      • Human AB serum (HS), Cat #100-112, Gemini Bioproducts, Calabasas, Calif.
      • Human rIL-2, Sandoz, Base1, Switzerland.
      • Human rIL-7, Cat #F1-1587-1, Genzyme, Cambridge, Mass.
      • Isopropanol, Cat #A464-4, Fisher Scientific, Pittsburgh, Pa.
      • MicroCELLector T-150 culture flask for selection of CD4+ cells, Cat #8030, Applied Immune Sciences, Menlo Park, Calif.
      • Micromedic automatic gamma counter, ICN Micromedics Systems, Huntsville, Ala.
      • OKT4 hybridoma supernatant, Cat #CRL 8002, ATCC, Rockville, Md.
      • Paraformaldehyde, Cat #T-353, Fisher, Pittsburgh, Pa.
      • PBS calcium and magnesium free (CMF), Cat #17-516B, BioWhittaker, Walkersville, Md.
      • Peptides used in this study were synthesized at Cytel and described in TABLE 123.
      • Phytohemagglutinin (PHA), Cat #HA-16, Wellcome, Dartford, England.
      • RPMI 1640+Hepes+glutamine, Cat #12-115B, BioWhittaker, Walkersville, Md.
      • RPMI 1640+Hepes+glutamine, Cat #380-24OOAJ,
      • Gibco, Grand Island, N.Y.
      • Sodium chloride (NaCl), Cat #3624-05, J. T. Baker, Phillipsburg, N.J.
      • Sodium (51Cr) chromate, Cat #NEZ 030, NEN, Wilmington, Del.
      • Sodium phosphate monobasic, Cat #S9638, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • Triton X-100, Cat #X-100, Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.
      • 24 well tissue culture plate, Cat #3047, Falcon, Becton Dickinson, San Jose, Calif.
      • 96 well U-bottomed cluster plate, Cat #3799, Costar, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Culture Medium. PHA blasts and CTL inductions were done in RPMI 1640+Hepes+glutamine (Gibco) supplemented with 2 mM L-glutamine (Irvine Scientific), 50 μg/ml gentamicin (Gibco), and 5% heat inactivated pooled human Type AB serum (Gemini Bioproducts) [RPMI/5% HS]. EBV transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL) were maintained in RPMI 1640+Hepes+glutamine (BioWhittaker) supplemented with L-glutamine and gentamicin as above and 10% heat inactivated fetal calf serum (Irvine Scientific) [RPMI/10% FCS]. Chromium release assays were performed in RPMI/10% FCS.
  • Cytokines. Recombinant human interleukin-2 (rIL-2) (Sandoz) was used at a final concentration of 10 U/ml. Recombinant human interleukin-7 (rIL-7) (Genzyme) was used at a final concentration of 10 ng/ml.
  • Isolation of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC). Whole blood was collected in heparin (10 U/ml) containing syringes and spun in 50 cc conical centrifuge tubes (Falcon) at 1600 rpm (Beckman GS-6KR) 15 min. The plasma layer was then removed and 10 ml of the buffy coat collected with a 10 ml pipette using a circular motion. The buffy coat was mixed thoroughly and diluted with an equal volume of serum free RPMI 1640. The diluted buffy coat was then layered over 20 ml Ficoll-Paque (Pharmacia) in a 50 cc conical tube and centrifuged 400×g for 20 min at room temperature with the brake off. The Ficoll-plasma interface containing the PBMCs was collected using a transfer pipet (two interfaces per 50 cc tube) and washed three times with 50 ml RPMI (1700, 1500, and 1300 rpm for 10 min.
  • Freezing and Thawing PBMC. PBMC were frozen at 30×106 cells/ml of 90% FCS+10% DMSO (Sigma), in 1 ml aliquots using cyrovials (Nalge). Cryovials were placed in Cryo 1° C. freezing containers (Nalge) containing isopropanol (Fisher) and placed at −70° C. from 4 hr (minimum) to overnight (maximum). Isopropanol was changed after every 5 uses. Cryovials were transferred to liquid nitrogen for long term storage. PBMC were thawed by continuous shaking in a 37° C. water bath until the last crystal was nearly thawed. Cells were immediately diluted into serum free RPMI medium containing DNAse 30 μg/ml (to avoid clumping) (Calbiochem), and washed twice.
  • Depletion of Lymphocyte Subpopulations. CD4 lymphocyte depletion was performed using antibody-coated flasks: MicroCELLector T-150 flasks for the selection of CD4+ cells (Applied Immune Sciences) were washed according to the manufacturer's instructions with 25 ml PBS CMF+1 mM EDTA (Sigma) by swirling flasks for 30 sec followed by incubation for 1 hr at room temperature on a flat surface. Buffer was aspirated and flasks were washed 2 additional times by shaking the flasks for 30 sec and maintaining coverage of the binding surface. To each washed flask, 25 ml culture medium+5% HS were added and incubated for 20 min at room temperature on a flat surface. Media was left in the flask until it was ready to receive the cells. PBMC were thawed in RPMI/5% HS containing 30 μg/ml DNAse, and washed twice. HS in the wash blocks Fc receptors on PBMCS. For one flask a maximum of 12×107 cells were resuspended in 25 ml culture medium. Culture medium was aspirated from the flask and then the cell suspension was gently added to the MicroCELLector. Flasks containing the cells were incubated for 1 hr at room temperature on a flat surface. At the end of the incubation, the flask was gently rocked from side to side for 10 sec to resuspend the nonadherent cells. Nonadherent CD4 depleted cells were harvested, and then flasks were washed twice with PBS CMF to collect the nonadherent cells. Harvested CD4-depleted cells were pelleted by centrifugation and resuspended in complete culture medium (RPMI/5%/HS).
  • Generation of PHA Blasts. PBMC were isolated using the standard Ficoll-Paque protocol. Frozen cells were washed twice before use. Cells were cultured at 2×106/ml in RPMI/5% HS containing 1 μg/ml PHA (Wellcome) and 10 U/ml rIL-2. PHA blasts were maintained in culture medium containing 10 U/ml rIL-2 with feeding and splitting as needed. PHA blasts were used as APC on day 6 of culture. Generation of empty class 1 molecules and peptide loading were only performed by the acid strip method when using these APC.
  • Acid Stripping/Peptide Loading of PBMC and PHA Blasts. PBMC were isolated using the Ficoll-Paque protocol. When using frozen cells, PBMC were washed twice before using. PHA blasts were prepared as previously described and washed twice before using. Once cells were prepared, they were washed once in cold sterile 0.9% NaCl (J. T. Baker)+1% BSA. In a 50 cc conical centrifuge tube, the cells were resuspended at 107/ml in cold sterile citrate-phosphate buffer [0-13 M L-ascorbic acid (J. T. Baker), 0.06 M sodium phosphate monobasic (Sigma) pH 3, 1% BSA, 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin (Scripps Labs)] and incubated for 2 min on ice. Immediately, 5 volumes of cold sterile neutralizing buffer #1 [0.15 M sodium phosphate monobasic pH 7.5, 1% BSA, 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin, 10 μg/ml peptide] were added, and the cells were pelleted at 1500 rpm, 5 min at 4° C. Cells were resuspended in 1 volume cold sterile neutralizing buffer #2 [PBS CMF, 1% BSA, 30 μg/ml DNAse, 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin, 40 μg/ml peptide] and incubated for 4 hrs at 20° C. Cells were diluted with culture medium to approximately 5×106/ml and irradiated with 6000 rads. Cells were then centrifuged at 1500 rpm for 5 min at room temperature and resuspended in culture medium. The acid stripped/peptide loaded cells were used immediately in the CTL induction cultures (below).
  • Induction of Primary CTL using Acid Stripped/Peptide Loaded Autologous PBMCs or PHA Blasts as Stimulators. Acid stripping/peptide loading of PBMC and PHA blasts are described above. During the last 4 hr incubation of stimulator cells with peptide, the responder cell population was prepared: Responders were PBMC that were depleted of CD4+ cells (described above). Responder cells were resuspended in culture medium at 3×106/ml. 1 ml of the responder cell suspension was dispensed into each well of a 24-well tissue culture plate (Falcon, Becton Dickinson). The plates were placed in the incubator at 37° C., 5% CO2 until the stimulator population was ready. Once irradiated, stimulator APC were resuspended in culture medium containing 20 ng/ml rIL-7 at 106/ml for the PBMC, or at 3×105/ml for the PHA blasts. 1 ml of stimulator cell suspension was added per well to the plates containing the responders. On day 7 after induction, a 100 μl culture medium containing 200 ng/ml rIL-7 was added to each well (20 ng/well rIL-7 final). On day 10 after induction, 100 μl of culture medium containing 200 U/ml rIL-2 was added to each well (20 U/well rIL-2 final).
  • Antigen Restimulation of CTL. On day 12-14 after the induction, the primary CTL were restimulated with peptide using adherent APC. Autologous PBMC were thawed and washed as described above. Cells were irradiated at 6000 rads. Cells were pelleted and resuspended in culture medium at 4×106/ml. 1 ml of cell suspension was added to each well of a 24-well tissue culture plate, and incubated for 2 hrs at 37° C., 5% CO2. Non-adherent cells were removed by washing each well three times with serum free RPMI. After this step, a 0.5 ml culture medium containing 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin and 20 μg/ml total peptide was added to each well. APC were incubated for 2 hrs at 37° C., under 5% CO2 with the peptide and β2 microglobulin. Wells were aspirated and 1 ml of responder cells at 1.5×106/ml in culture medium was added to each well. After 2 days, 1 ml of culture medium containing 20 U/ml rIL-2 was added to each well.
  • Cytotoxicity Chromium Release Assay. Seven days following restimulation of primary induction, the cytotoxic activity of the cultures was assessed.
  • a. Effector Cell Preparation: the responders, which at this stage are renamed “effectors”, were centrifuged and resuspended at 107/ml in RPMI/10% FCS. Three-fold serial dilutions of effectors were performed to yield effector to target ratios of 100:1, 33:1, 11:1, and 3:1. Effector cells were aliquoted at 100 μl/well on 96 well U-bottomed cluster plates (Costar), in duplicate.
  • b. Target Cell Preparation: Approximately 16-20 hrs prior to the assay, target cells were resuspended at 3×105/ml in RPMI/10% FCS in the presence or absence of 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin and 10 μg/ml total peptide. After preincubation, target cells were centrifuged and pellets were resuspended in 200 μl (300 μCi) sodium (51Cr) chromate (NEN). Cells were incubated at 37° C. for 1 hr with agitation. Labeled target cells were washed 3 times with RPMI/10% FCS.
  • c. Setting Up the Assays: Target cell concentration was adjusted to 105/ml in RPMI/10% FCS and 100 μl aliquots were added to each well containing responders. K562 cells (cold targets, to block NK, and LAK activity) were washed and resuspended in RPMI/10% FCS at 107/ml. Aliquots of 20 μl were added per well, yielding a 20:1 of cold K562 target:labeled target. For the determination of the spontaneous 51Cr release, 100 μl/well of RPMI/10% FCS were added to 100 μl/well of labeled target cells, and 20 μl/well of K562. For maximum 51Cr release, 100 μl 1% Triton X-100 (Sigma) in PBS CMF, was added to the 100 μl/well labelled target cells, and 20 μl/well K562. Plates were centrifuged for 2 min at 1200 rpm to accelerate cell conjugate formation. Assays were incubated for 5 hr at 37° C., 5% CO2. Assays were harvested by centrifuging plates for 5 min at 1200 rpm and collecting 100 μl/well of supernatant. Standard gamma counting techniques were used to determine percent specific lysis (Micromedic automatic gamma counter, 0.5 min per tube).
  • Cultured Cell Lines. JY, a HLA A2.1 expressing human EBV-transformed B-cell line, was grown in RPMI/10% FCS. K562, a NK cell sensitive erythroblastoma line was grown in RPMI/0% FCS. K562 was used to reduce background killing by NK and LAK cells in the chromium release assays.
  • Peptides. The peptides used in these studies were synthesized at Cytel and their sequences are described in TABLE 123. Peptides were routinely diluted in 100% DMSO at 20 mg/ml, aliquoted, and stored at −20° C.
  • FACS Analysis. Approximately 106 cells were used for each antibody that was to be tested. Cells were washed twice with PBS CNU+0.1% BSA. To each sample, 100 μl PBS CMF+0.1% BSA+primary antibody at 2 μg/ml (BB7.2, ATCC) or (9.12.1, Inserm-CNRS, Marseille, France) or (LB3.1, Children's Hospital Pittsburgh) were added. A negative control was always included. Cells were incubated on ice for 20 min and washed twice with PBS CMF+0.1% BSA. Cells were resuspended in 100 μl anti-mouse IgG FITC conjugate (Sigma), diluted 1:50 in PBS CMF+0.1% BSA, and incubated 20 min on ice. Cells were washed twice with PBS CMF+0.1% BSA, and resuspended in PBS for FACScan (Becton Dickinson) analysis. When it was necessary to postpone analysis to the subsequent days, the cells were fixed with PBS/1% paraformaldehyde (Fisher) and analyzed within one week.
  • Binding Assays Using Intact Cells and Radiolabelled Peptide. JY cells were treated with citrate-phosphate buffer and neutralizing buffer #1 as described above. JY control cells were left untreated in tissue culture media. After treatment both cell populations were washed twice with serum free RPMI and loaded with 125I-radiolabelled 941.01 (HBc15-27) peptide (standard chloramine T iodination). To determine binding specificity, 2×106 cells were resuspended in 200 μl neutralizing buffer #2 (described above) containing 125I-941.01 (105 cpms)+/−100 μg unlabelled 941.01. Cells were incubated for 4 hrs at 20° C. and washed twice with serum free RPMI to remove free peptide. Cells were resuspended in 200 μl of serum free RPMI. In α microfuge tube the cell suspension was layered over an 800 μl FCS and pelleted by centrifugation for 5 sec. Supernatants were aspirated and the radioactivity remaining in the pellet was measured (Micromedic automatic gamma counter, 1 min per tube).
  • Example 41 Class I MHC Molecule Peptide Stripping/Loading by Mild Acid Treatment
  • Mild acid solutions of pH 3 such as glycine or citrate-phosphate buffers have been used by various groups to identify endogenous peptides and to identify tumor associated T cell epitopes. The treatment is unique in that only the MHC class I molecules are destabilized (and peptides released), while all other surface antigens remain intact including MHC class II molecules. Most importantly, treatment of cells with the mild acid solutions of this example do not affect the cell's viability or metabolic state. The mild acid treatment is rapid since the stripping of endogenous peptides occurs in two minutes at 4° C. and the APC is ready to perform its function after the appropriate peptides are loaded. In this example we utilized the technique to make peptide specific APCs for the generation of primary antigen-specific CTL. The resulting APC were efficient in inducing peptide-specific CD8+ CTL.
  • Measurements by FACS Analysis. PHA-induced T-cell blasts were acid stripped/peptide loaded according to the methods described in Example 15. The resulting cells were stained for FACS analysis using anti-HLA-A2 (BB7.2) and anti-HLA alpha chain-specific (9.12.1) monoclonal antibodies. Controls for this experiment included the same cell population which was not treated at pH 3 (but treated with PBS buffer at pH 7.2), and with cells treated with citrate-phosphate buffer (to strip the MHC) but neutralized in the absence of β2 microglobulin and peptide. The results presented in FIG. 28, indicate that treatment of these cells with the citrate-phosphate (pH 3) buffer significantly reduced (10-fold) the reactivity of the cells toward both anti-HLA class I antibodies alone (anti-HLA-A2 and the alpha chain specific), but not towards a monoclonal antibody specific for class II MHC molecules (anti-HLA-DR). Most importantly, neutralization of the acid-stripped cells in the presence of β2 microglobulin and peptide resulted in preservation of a significant amount of class I MHC antibody-reactive sites, with only a 2.5-fold decrease in fluorescence intensity. Importantly, the acid-treated cells remained viable, as measured by trypan blue exclusion and forward/lateral FACS scatter analysis. Similar results were obtained using EBV-transformed B cell lines, fresh (or frozen) PBMC and other peptides (which bind to either HLA-A2.1 or HLA-A1) (data not shown).
  • Binding of Radiolabeled Peptides to Empty MHC Molecules. To determine the efficiency of peptide loading using the cold temperature incubation or acid stripping/peptide loading protocol, JY cells (an HLA-A2.1 EBV-transformed B cell line) were preincubated at 26° C. overnight or acid-stripped to remove the endogenous MHC-associated peptides and the loading of exogenous peptide was determined using a 125I-radiolabelled HLA-A2.1 binding peptide. The specificity of this reaction was determined by measuring the inhibition of labelled peptide binding using a cold peptide of the same sequence. Results presented in TABLES 123-124 demonstrate that acid-treatment of the cells increased significantly (approximately 10-fold) the amount of labeled peptide binding to the JY cells. Furthermore, the binding of labelled peptide was completely blocked by the addition of the cold peptide, demonstrating specific binding (data not shown).
  • In Vitro Induction of Primary Antigen-Specific CTL Using Acid Stripped/Peptide Loaded APCS. Additional critical parameters for the induction of primary CTL using both the cold temperature incubation and acid strip protocol are: 1) enrichment of CD8+ T-cells in the responder cell population (or depletion of CD4+ T-cells), 2) addition of rIL-7 to the CTL induction cultures from day 0, and 3) restimulation of the cultures with antigen on day 12-14 using autologous adherent cells pulsed with peptide.
  • Example 42 Screening Peptides to Identify CTL Epitopes
  • In order to identify CTL epitopes, CTL was stimulated by SAC-I activated PBMCs as APC. Cold temperature expression of the MHC in which class I β2 microglobulin complex is unstable was utilized in addition to acid stripping to generate PBMC APC.
  • Complete Culture Medium. The tissue culture medium used in this study consisted of RPMI 1640 with Hepes and L-glutamine (Gibco) supplemented with 2 mM L-glutamine (Irvine Scientific), 0.5 mM sodium pyruvate (Gibco), 100 U/100 ug/ml penicillin/streptomycin (Irvine), and 5% heat-inactivated Human Serum Type AB (RPMI/5% HS; Gemini Bioproducts). Culture media used in the growth of EBV-transformed lines contained 10% heat-inactivated fetal calf serum (RPMI/10% FCS, Irvine) instead of human serum.
  • Cytokines. Recombinant human Interleukin-2 (rIL-2) and Interleukin-4 (rIL-4) were obtained from Sandoz and used at a final concentration of 10 U/ml and 10 ng/ml, respectively. Human interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and recombinant human Interleukin-7 (rIL-7) were obtained from Genzyme and used at 20 U/ml and 10 ng/ml, respectively.
  • Peptides. Peptides were synthesized at Cytel and are described in TABLES 123-124. Peptides were routinely diluted in 100% DMSO at 20 mg/ml, aliquoted, and stored at −70° C. until use.
  • Cell Lines. JY, Steinlin, EHM, BVR, and KT3 are homozygous human EBV-transformed B cell lines expressing HLA A2.1, A1, A3, A11, and A24, respectively. They are grown in RPMI/10% FCS. K562, an NK cell sensitive, erythoblastoma line grown in RPMI/10% FCS, was used for reduction of background killing in CTL assays. Melanoma cell lines either expressing the MAGE antigen, mel 397 and mel 938, or not expressing the MAGE antigen; mel 888, were also grown in RPMI/10% FCS.
  • Isolation of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs). Whole blood was collected into heparin containing syringes and spun in 50 cc tubes at 1600 RPM (Beckman GS-6KR) for 15 minutes. The plasma layer was then removed and 10 ml of buffy coat was collected with a pipette using a circular motion. The buffy coat was mixed well and diluted with an equal volume of RPMI. The buffy coat (30 ml) was then layered on 20 ml of Ficoll-Paque (Pharmacia) and centrifuged at 1850 RPM (400×g) for 20 minutes, 25° C., with the brake off. The interface between the ficoll and the plasma containing the PBMCs was recovered with a transfer pipet (two interfaces per 50 ml tube) and washed three times with 50 ml of RPMI (1700, 1500, and 1300 RPM for 10 minutes). Cells were resuspended in 10-20 ml of culture medium, counted, and adjusted to the appropriate concentration.
  • Freezing PBMCs. 30 million cells/tube (90% FCS/10% DMSO; Sigma) were inserted into a Nalgene Cryo 1° C. Freezing Container containing isopropanol (Fisher) and placed at −70° C. from 4 hrs (minimum) to overnight (maximum). The isopropanol was changed every five times. Tubes were transferred to liquid nitrogen for long term storage. To thaw, PBMCs were continuously shaken in a 37° C. water bath until the last crystal was almost thawed (tubes were not allowed to sit in the water bath or at room temperature for any period of time). Cells were diluted into serum-free RPMI containing 30 μg/ml DNase to prevent clumping by dead cell DNA and washed twice.
  • Induction of Primary CTL Using SAC-I Activated PBMCs as APCs
  • a. Preparation of APCs: PBMCs were purified using the standard Ficoll-Paque protocol and resuspended at 1×106/ml in RPMI/5% FCS containing 0.005% Pansorbin cells (SAC-I cells expressing Protein A; Calbiochem), 20 μg/ml Immunobeads (Rabbit anti-Human IgM; Biorad), and 20 ng/ml of human rIL-4. Two ml of cells per well were plated in a 24-well plate (Falcon, Becton Dickinson) and cultured at 37° C. After 3 days, the medium was removed and the cells were washed three times followed by addition of RPMI/10% HS. The cells were used after culturing for an additional 2 days in RPMI/10% HS.
  • b. Expression of Empty Class I Molecules on the Surface of APCs and Peptide Loading of APCs.
  • 1. Cold Temperature Incubation:
      • a. Expression of empty MHC in APCs: The APCs were adjusted to a concentration of 2×106/ml in complete culture medium containing 10 ng/ml rIL-4, 20 U/ml human IFN-γ, and 3 μg/ml 132 microglobulin (β2m; Scripps Lab). The cells were then incubated overnight at 26° C. in the presence of 5% CO2. It should be noted that these cells only express a fraction of Class I molecules in the empty state (˜10%).
      • b. Peptide loading of APC stimulator cells: Empty Class I expressing APCs were washed 1-2 times with serum free RPMI (+L-glutamine and Hepes) and resuspended at 1×107 in serum-free RPMI containing 50 μg/ml total of the peptide pool (i.e., 16.7 μg/ml of each peptide in a pool of three; 25 μg/ml of each peptide in a pool of two; 50 μg/ml of individual peptide), 30 μg/ml DNAse, and 3 μg/ml β2m. Following a 4 hour incubation at 20° C., the cells were irradiated at 6100 rads (5×106/ml; 25 million cells/tube), washed and adjusted to the appropriate concentration for addition to the induction culture (see below).
  • 2. Acid stripping: This was used as an alternative method for generating empty MHC on the surface of the APCs. The SAC-I activated PBMCs were washed once in cold 0.9% sodium chloride (J. T. Baker) containing 1% BSA. The cells were resuspended at 107/ml in cold citrate-phosphate buffer (0.13M L-ascorbic acid [J. T. Baker], 0.06M sodium phosphate monobasic [Sigma], pH3) containing 1% BSA and 3 μg/ml β2m and incubated on ice. After 2 minutes, 5 volumes of cold 0.15M sodium phosphate monobasic buffer, pH7.5, containing 1% BSA, 3 μg/ml β2m, and 10 μg/ml peptide [neutralizing buffer #1] was added and the cells centrifuged at 1500 RPM for 5 minutes at 4° C. The cells were resuspended in 1 ml of cold PBS containing 1% BSA, 30 μg/ml DNase, 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin, and 50 μg/ml peptide [neutralizing buffer #2] and incubated for 4 hours at 20° C. As above, subsequent to the four hour incubation at 20° C., the cells were irradiated at 6100 rads (5×106/ml; 25 million cells/tube), washed, then adjusted to the appropriate concentration for addition to the induction culture (see below).
      • c. Preparation of the CD4+ depleted PBMC responder cell population (depletion of lymphocyte sub-populations using AIS flasks). AIS MicroCellector T-150 flasks (specific for the depletion of CD4+ T cells; Menlo Park, Calif.) were primed by adding 25 ml of PBS/1 mM EDTA, swirling for 30 seconds so that all surfaces were moistened, and then incubating with the binding surface down at room temperature for 1 hour. Following this incubation, flasks were shaken vigorously for 30 seconds, washed 1 time with PBS/EDTA, 2 additional times with PBS and then incubated with 25 ml of culture medium for 15 minutes. PBMCs were thawed in serum-free RPMI (+L-glutamine+Hepes) containing 30 μg/ml DNAse, washed once, and incubated for 15 minutes in culture medium. Following aspiration of culture medium from the flasks, up to 180 million PBMCs were added in 25 ml of culture medium containing 30 μg/ml DNAse. After 1 hour at room temperature, the flasks were rocked gently for 10 seconds to resuspend the nonadherent cells. The nonadherent cell suspension containing the CD8+ T cells was collected and the flasks were washed 2 times with PBS. The CD4+ T cell depleted PBMCs were centrifuged and counted for addition to the induction culture. The CD4+ and CD8+ phenotype of the CD4+ depleted cell population was determined by FACS analysis (see below). In general, this technique resulted in a two-fold enrichment for CD8+ T cells with an average of approximately 40-50% CD8+ T cells and 15-20% remaining CD4+ T cells following depletion of CD4+ T cells. Depletion of CD4+ T cells can also be accomplished by antibody and complement or antibody coated magnetic beads (Dynabeads). Depletion of CD4+ T cells served the purpose of enriching CTLp and removing cells which would complete for cell nutrients and may interfere with CTLp expansion.
      • d. Induction of primary CTL. During the 4 hour peptide loading of the stimulator APCs, CD4+ depleted PBMC to be used as the responder population were prepared utilizing AIS flasks for selection of CD8+ T cells through the depletion of CD4+ T cells (above). The responder cells were plated at 3×106/ml in a 1 ml volume (24 well plate) and placed at 37° C. until the peptide loaded stimulator APCs were prepared. The irradiated, peptide loaded APCs were washed 1 time in serum-free RPMI (+L-glutamine and Hepes), adjusted to 1×106/ml in complete medium, and plated into a 24 well plate at 1 ml/plate: For PBMC, 1×106 stimulator cells (1 ml volume) were plated into the wells containing the responder cells; For SAC-I activated PBMC and PHA blasts, 1 ml of 3×105/ml stimulator cells were plated in each well. A final concentration of 10 μg/ml of additional peptide was added in addition to 10 ng/ml final concentration of rIL-7 (2 ml total volume). On day 7 an additional 10 μg/ml rIL-7 was added to the culture and 10 U/ml rIL-2 was added every 3 days thereafter. On day 12, the cultures were restimulated with peptide pulsed adherent cells and tested for cytolytic activity 7 days later (below).
  • Protocol for Restimulation of Primary CTL Using Adherent APC. PBMCs were thawed into serum-free RPMI (+L-glutamine and Hepes) containing 30 μg/ml DNAse, washed 2 times, and adjusted to 5×106/ml in culture medium containing DNAse. PBMCs (25 million cells/tube in 5 ml) were irradiated at 6100R. After 1 wash, the PBMCs were resuspended in culture medium and adjusted to 4×106/ml. 1 ml of irradiated PBMCs was added per well of a 24-well plate. The PBMC were incubated for 2 hours at 37° C., washed 3 times to remove non-adherent cells, and cultured in medium containing 20 μg/ml total peptide and 3 μg/ml β2 microglobulin added in a 0.5 ml volume and again incubated for 2 hours at 37° C. The peptide was aspirated and 1.5×106 responder cells resuspended in culture medium were added in a 1 ml volume. After 2 days, 1 ml of culture medium containing 20 U/ml rIL-2 was added.
  • FACS Analysis. One million cells/tube were centrifuged, resuspended in 100 μl/tube PBS/0.1% BSA/0.02% sodium azide (Sigma) plus 10 μl/tube directly conjugated antibody (Becton Dickinson), and incubated on ice 15-20 minutes. Cells were then washed 2 times with PBS/0.1% BSA/0.02% sodium azide and resuspended in PBS to analyze on FACScan (Beckton Dickinson). When it was not possible to analyze samples within 1-2 days, cells were fixed with PBS containing 1% paraformaldehyde (Fisher) and analyzed within one week.
  • Cytotoxicity Assay
  • a. Target cell preparation. Approximately 16-20 hours prior to the CTL assay, target cells (Class I matched EBV-transformed lines) were washed once and resuspended in a 10 ml volume at 3×105/ml in RPMI/5% FCS in the presence or absence of 10 μg/ml total peptide.
  • b. Labeling of target cells: Target cells were centrifuged and resuspended in 200 μl/tube sodium 51Cr chromate (NEN), then incubated at 37° C. for 1 hour on a shaker. Targets were washed 3 times (10 ml/wash) with RPMI/10% FCS and resuspended in 10 ml (to determine the efficiency of labelling, 50 μl/target was counted on the Micromedic automatic gamma counter).
  • c. CTL assay. Target cells were adjusted to 2×105/ml and 50 μl of the cell culture was added to each well of a U-bottomed 96-well plate (Costar Corp.) for a final concentration of 1×104/well. K562 cells were washed once, resuspended at 4×106/ml, and 50 μl/well was added for a final concentration of 2×105/well (ratio of cold K562 to target was 20:1). Responder cells were washed once, resuspended at 9×106/ml, and three fold serial dilutions were performed for effector to target ratios of 90:1, 30:1, 10:1, and 3:1. Responder cells were added in a volume of 100 μl in duplicate wells. For spontaneous release, 50 μl/well of labelled target cells, 50 μL/well K562, and 100 μl/well of medium was added. For maximum release, 50 μl/well target, 50 μl/well K562, and 100 μL/well of 0.1% Triton-X100 (Sigma) was added. Plates were centrifuged for 5 minutes at 1200 RPM. Following a 5 hour incubation at 37° C., plates were centrifuged again for 5 minutes at 1200 RPM, and 100 μl/well of supernatant was collected. Standard gamma counting techniques (Micromedic automatic gamma counter; 0.5 minutes/tube) were used to determine the percent specific lysis according to the formula: % specific lysis=cpm experimental−cpm spontaneous release/cpm maximum release−cpm spontaneous release×100. A cytotoxicity assay (CTL assay) was considered positive if the lysis by CTL of targets sentized with a specific peptide at the two highest effector to target (E:T) ratios was 15% greater than lysis of control targets (i.e., target cells without peptide). A cytotoxicity assay (CTL assay) was considered borderline if the lysis by CTL of targets sensitized with a specific peptide at the two highest effector to target (E:T ratios was 6% greater than lysis of control targets (i.e., target cells without peptide).
  • d. Results. Of the peptides that bind to the indicated alleles, 9 of the 49 MAGE peptides, 10 of the 45 HIV peptides, 3 of the 25 HCV peptides, and 2 of the 20 HBV peptides tested to date induced primary CTL in vitro. Representative graphs illustrating CTL responses to various immunogenic peptides are shown for MAGE (FIG. 35), HIV (FIG. 36), HCV (FIG. 37), and HBV (FIG. 38). The CTL induction data are summarized in TABLE 123-124 which lists the immunogenic peptides which bind to the appropriate MHC and induce primary CTL in vitro. Indicated is the peptide's sequence, corresponding antigen and HLA allele to which it binds. Results shown in FIG. 33 illustrate lysis of peptide sensitized targets and endogenous targets following stimulation with SAC-I activated PBMCs loaded with a MAGE 3 peptide, 1044.07 by the cold temperature and incubation technique. FIG. 34 shows a comparison of the acid strip loading technique (Panel a) with the cold temperature incubation technique (panel b).
  • Example 43 Analog Peptides with Substitutions at Primary and Secondary Anchor Positions and Effects on A24 Binding
  • A model poly alanine 9-mer peptide containing the A24-allele specific motif of Y in position 2 and F in position 9 was used to evaluate the possibility that there are other residues that can serve as primary anchors for peptide binding to HLA-A24 molecules. It was found that in position 2 not only Y, but also F, M, and possibly W, were accepted. The acceptability of W at position 2 was confirmed by data in this Example. At the C-termini of 9 or amino acid ligands, F and W were most preferred, but also L and I were accepted. From these results, it was concluded that A24 binding of any peptide which carries a tolerated residue in position 2 or the C-terminal position (for example, M in position 2) should be increased by creating an analog peptide by replacing the acceptable residue with a more canonical anchor.
  • The results of further experiments describing the prominent role of amino acids which were not primary anchors as determinants of A24 binding capacity have been determined (see, e.g., Kondo, et al, J. Immunol. 155:4307 (1995)). Thus, an overall A24 binding data was compiled, and for each position the relative average binding affinity of peptides carrying particular residues was calculated. Based on this calculation, preferred and deleterious residues were identified; these are shown in FIG. 44.
  • Secondary Residues of 9-mer Peptides and A24 Binding. In the case of 9-mer peptides it was found, for example, that peptides carrying G or negatively charged residues (D, E) at position 1 tended to bind poorly, with an average affinity 10-fold lower than the average affinity of a sample panel of 141 different 9-mer peptides analyzed. By contrast, peptides carrying aromatic residues (F, Y, W) at position 1 bound very well with an average affinity 11.8-fold higher than the overall average. Peptides with positively charged residues (R, K, M in position one also tended to bind well, with average affinity 4.6-fold higher than the overall average.
  • Negative effects on A24 binding capacity were also detected when certain residues were present at several other positions: D or E at positions 3 and 6, G at positions 4 and 7, positive charges (K, R, H) at position 6, A at position 8, P at position 5, and amides (Q and N) at positions 5 and 8. Conversely, it was found that aromatic (Y, F, W) residues favored A24 binding when found at position 7 or 8, and small hydrogen bonding residues such as (S, T, C) had a positive effect when present at position 4.
  • Thus, it was found that every single position along the 9-mer sequence can influence A24 binding. It was also interesting that hydrophobic residues (F, W, Y, L, I, V, and M) were never associated with poor binding.
  • 10-mer Peptides and A24 Binding. A similar analysis was also performed with 10-mer peptides. Analogous to the preceding section concerning 9-mers, several secondary effects were also discerned when analogs were prepared of 10 mer peptides.
  • As was the case for 9-mer peptides, negative residues (D, E) in position 3 and 6 were associated with poor binding. In general, however, the map of secondary effects for 10-mers was quite distinct from that of 9-mers. For example, P, in the case of 9-mer peptides, was not associated with significantly increased binding at any position and was even associated with decreased binding at position 5. However, for 10-mers, P was associated with increased binding capacity when found at positions 4, 5, or 7 of 10-mer peptide ligands.
  • In 10-mer peptides, position 5 appears to be most important in terms of secondary effects, with (besides the already mentioned P) Y, F, and W associated with good A24 binding and R, H, and K associated with poor binding capacity. The presence of A at positions 7 and 9, and amide (Q, N) residues at positions 4 and 8 were also associated with poor binding capacity. Thus, in accordance with the principles for preparing peptide analogs disclosed herein, this information provides guidance for the preparation of 9-mer and 10-mer analogs of peptides that bind HLA A24 molecules.
  • Example 44 Immunogenicity of HPV Peptides in A2.1 Transgenic Mice
  • A group of 14 HPV peptides, including 9 potential epitopes plus 3 low binding and one non-binding peptides as controls was screened for immunogenicity in HLA-A2.1 transgenic mice using the methods described in Example 10. To test the immunogenic potential of the peptides, HLA A2.1 transgenic mice were injected with 50 ig/mouse of each HPV peptide together with 140 μg/mouse of helper peptide (HBV core 128-140 (TPPAYRPPNAPIL (SEQ ID NO:______)). The peptides were injected in the base of the tail in a 1:1 emulsion IFA. Three mice per group were used. As a positive control, the HBV polymerase 561-570 peptide, which induced a strong CTL response in previous experiments, was utilized.
  • Based on these results (TABLE 179), four unrelated peptides were considered to be the most immunogenic: TLGIVCPI (SEQ ID NO:______), LLMGTLGIV (SEQ ID NO:______), YMLDLQPETT (SEQ ID NO:______), and TIHDIILECV (SEQ ID NO:______). TLGIVCPI (SEQ ID NO:______) and YMLDLQPETT (SEQ ID NO:______) were found to be good HLA-A2.1 binders, while LLMGTLGIV and TIHDIILECV were found to be intermediate binders in previous binding assays.
  • Mixtures of Selected HPV Epitopes
  • A combination of CTL peptides and a helper peptide were tested for the ability to provide an increased immune response. The four single peptides were injected separately in order to compare their immunogenicity to injections containing only the two good binders or only the two intermediate binders. In addition all four peptide were injected together. To further evaluate the immunogenicity of a combination of peptides with different binding affinity decreases, another control was introduced in this experiment. A mixture of the two good binders was injected in a different site than the mixture of the two intermediate binders into the base of the tail of the same mouse. All groups of CTL epitopes were injected together with the HBVc helper epitope, with the exception of two groups in which all four HPV coinjected with two different doses of a PADRE helper peptide (aKXVAAWTLKAAa, where a is d-alanine and X is cyclohexylalanine) either 1 μg or 0.05 μg per mouse.
  • All four peptides induced a strong CTL response when injected alone and tested using target cells labeled with the appropriate peptide (TABLE 180). TLGIVCPI (SEQ ID NO:______) proved to be the strongest epitope, an observation confirming the results described above. When mixtures of all four peptides were injected and the responses were stimulated in vitro and tested with target cells pulsed with each single peptide, all combinations showed a strong CTL response. No significant difference was observed when the two helper epitopes were compared. This might in part be due to the fact that the highest dose of PADRE used in this experiment was 140-fold lower than the one for the HBV helper peptide.
  • Injection of mixtures of the two good binders together or the two intermediate binders resulted in a very low CTL response in both cases even though the single peptides were highly effective. These results, however, are due to a very low number of cell recovery after splenocyte culture of 6 days and are therefore regarded as preliminary.
  • TABLE 176 provides the results of searches of the following antigens cERB2, EBNA1, HBA, HCV, HIV, HPV, MAGE, p53, and PSA. Only peptides with binding affinity of at least 1% as compared to the standard peptide is shown in the far right column. The column labeled “Pos.” indicates that position in the antigenic protein at which the sequence occurs.
  • TABLE 177 also provides the results of these searches. Binding affinities are expressed as percentage of binding compared to standard peptide in the assays as described in Example 5.
  • Example 45 Effects of Secondary Anchor Residues on A1 Binding
  • An analysis similar to that described above for A24 was also described for peptides that bear a motif correlated to binding to the HLA-A*0101 allele molecules. Briefly, previous studies have defined two different peptide binding motifs specific for HLA-A*0101: A motif defining anchors at position 2 and the C-terminus, and a motif with anchors at position 3 and the C-terminus. Such motifs for binding to the same HLA allele are referred to as “submotifs.”
  • Thus, 9-mer and 10-mer maps of secondary interactions were derived for both A*0101 submotifs. To derive such maps of secondary interactions, the relevant A*0101 binding data of peptide sets corresponding to each of the two motifs were compiled. For each position, the relative average binding affinity of peptides carrying each particular residue was calculated. To compensate for the low occurrence of certain residues, and to obtain a more significant sampling, amino acids carrying chemically similar side chains were combined, as suggested by Ruppert et al., supra.
  • The results obtained by this type of analysis for 9-mer peptides are shown in FIG. 42A and FIG. 42B for the 2-9 and 3-9 motifs, respectively; diagrams illustrating the secondary effects detected by this analysis are also shown as FIG. 42C and FIG. 42D (for the 2-9 and 3-9 motifs, respectively). Increases or decreases in average affinity greater than four-fold are defined as significant, as described herein, and were used to determine preferred or deleterious residues.
  • In general, for most positions binding capacity was affected, either negatively or positively, by the presence of particular residue types. For example, in the case of the 2-9 motif, it was found that peptides carrying either D or E at position 1 bound poorly to A*0101 molecules, with an average relative binding capacity (ARBC) of 0.20. Conversely, peptides carrying aromatic residues (Y, F, or W) at the same position (position 1) bound with an affinity, on average, four-fold higher (ARBC 4-0) than the overall average binding capacity of the entire peptide set.
  • Inspection of the diagrams reveals some interesting features of peptide binding to A*0101. First, as noted above, the anchors at positions 2 and 3 act synergistically with each other. The affinity of peptides carrying the M, S or T anchors in position 2 is dramatically increased by the presence of D or E in 3 (and to a lesser extent by A). Conversely, the affinity of peptides carrying the D or E anchors at position 3 was dramatically increased by the presence of S, T, and M (but also other hydrophobic or short chain molecules such as L, V, I, C and A) at position 2.
  • The degree to which peptides bearing either the 9-mer or 1 0-mer motifs differ in binding to the A*0101 HLA molecule is revealed by examining other positions. Comparing the values in FIG. 42A and FIG. 42B, it is clear that there are numerous examples where residues neutral in the context of one motif had positive or negative effects in the context of the other motif. At position one, for example, in the 2-9 motif G and aromatic (Y, F, and W) residues are preferred (ARBC >4.0), A and positively charged (R, H, and K) residues are relatively neutral (ARBCs between 4.0 and 0.25), and negatively charged (D and E) residues are deleterious (ARBC <0.25). In the case of peptides carrying the 3-9 motif, a different pattern is noted for position one and, with the exception of G, which is still preferred, the preferences are shuffled. Positively charged residues at position one have a significant positive influence on peptide binding (ARBC of 8.3), negatively charged and aromatic residues are neutral (ARBCs of 1.3 and 0.61, respectively), and A is deleterious (ARBC of 0.15). Similar types of modulation are observed at each position along the motif.
  • Overall, the shifts in secondary anchor preference from motif to motif are set forth in the summary diagrams shown in FIG. 42A, FIG. 42B, FIG. 42C, and FIG. 42D. In this context, it can be seen that, with the lone exception of the shared preference for G in position one, and excluding the position 2 and 3 co-anchors, the extended motifs of the two A*0101 9-mer motifs are in fact completely different. Thus, in a quantitative sense, the two 9-mer motifs have only one secondary effect out of 27 (3.7%) in common. The degree to which these A*0101 motifs differ is in striking contrast to the multiple similarities noted between the extended motifs of A24, A*0201, and A3 molecules (Kondo, et al., supra, where it was observed that between 3 and 5 (13-26%) secondary effects were shared between any two extended motifs.
  • Effects of Secondary Residues on A1 Binding for 10-mer Peptides. Analogous to what was described in the section above for 9-mer ligands, secondary anchor residues and secondary effects were also defined for the 2-10 and 3-10 submotifs for peptides that bind to HLA A1 molecules. The results of these analyses are presented in FIG. 43A and FIG. 43B, FIG. 43C, and FIG. 43D. Once again, it appeared the anchors present in position 2 and 3 could act synergistically with each other. The presence of D, E (and to a much lesser extent A, Q and N) in position 3, in the context of the 2-10 motif, and of hydrophobic (L, I, V, M) or short chain (S, T, C) residues in position 2, in the context of the 3-10 submotif, were associated with significant increases in average binding affinity.
  • Comparison of the two 10-mer motifs at positions other than 2, 3 and the C-termini indicates that, as was the case with 9-mer peptides, modulation in secondary anchor specificity occurs dependent on what the primary anchor residues are. For example, at position 7, A and S, T, and C are preferred in the 2-10 motif, but are neutral in the 3-10 motif. Conversely, G is preferred in the 3-10 motif, but is neutral in the 2-10 motif. However, it is also evident that, in contrast to the 9-mer motifs, these differences observed in 10-mers are much less striking. In fact, the two 10-mer motifs share a number of preferences. For example, Y, F, and W in positions 1 and 5, A in 4, P in 7, and G in 8 had positive effects for both motifs. Similarly, R, H, and K in 8 were deleterious in both 10-mer motifs (FIGS. 5 c and 5 d). In total, the two 10-mer motifs shared 6 secondary effects out of 25 (24%).
  • In accordance with the principles for preparing peptide analogs disclosed herein, this information provides guidance for the preparation of 9-mer and 10-mer peptides that bind to HLA A1 molecules.
  • These example and equivalents thereof will become more apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the present disclosure and the accompanying claims. It should be understood, however, that the examples are designed for the purpose of illustration only and not limiting of the scope of the invention in any way. All patents and publications cited herein are fully incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

Claims (16)

  1. 1. (canceled)
  2. 2. A peptide selected from the group consisting of peptides found in Tables 2-189.
  3. 3. An isolated peptide less than 15 amino acids in length comprising the oligopeptide LLTFWNPPV (SEQ ID NO:11419).
  4. 4. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3, wherein said peptide is linked to a T helper peptide.
  5. 5. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3, wherein said peptide is linked to a spacer or linker, wherein said spacer or linker is between one and six amino acids in length.
  6. 6. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3, wherein said peptide is linked to a carrier.
  7. 7. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3, wherein said peptide is linked to a lipid.
  8. 8. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 4, wherein said T-helper peptide is the PADRE helper peptide having the sequence aKXVAAWTLKAAa (SEQ ID NO:14635), wherein a is d-alanine and X is cyclohexylalanine.
  9. 9. A homopolymer of the peptide of claim 3.
  10. 10. A heteropolymer of the peptide of claim 3 and at least one different peptide, wherein said at least one different peptide is not derived from influenza and is a cytotoxic T cell (CTL)-inducing peptide or a helper T cell (HTL)-inducing peptide.
  11. 11. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3 and a carrier.
  12. 12. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3 and a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient.
  13. 13. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3 and a liposome.
  14. 14. A composition comprising the peptide of claim 3, and one or more different isolated peptides, wherein said one or more different isolated peptides is selected from the group consisting of: a cytotoxic T cell (CTL)-inducing peptide and a helper T cell (HTL)-inducing peptide.
  15. 15. The composition of claim 14, further comprising a carrier.
  16. 16. The composition of claim 14 further comprising a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient.
US11978519 1992-08-07 2007-10-30 HLA binding motifs and peptides and their uses Abandoned US20080260762A1 (en)

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US92666692 true 1992-08-07 1992-08-07
US2714693 true 1993-03-05 1993-03-05
US2774693 true 1993-03-05 1993-03-05
US7320593 true 1993-06-04 1993-06-04
US10339693 true 1993-08-06 1993-08-06
US12110193 true 1993-09-14 1993-09-14
US15918493 true 1993-11-29 1993-11-29
US08159339 US6037135A (en) 1992-08-07 1993-11-29 Methods for making HLA binding peptides and their uses
US08186266 US5662907A (en) 1992-08-07 1994-01-25 Induction of anti-tumor cytotoxic T lymphocytes in humans using synthetic peptide epitopes
US20571394 true 1994-03-04 1994-03-04
US27863494 true 1994-07-21 1994-07-21
US08305871 US5736142A (en) 1993-09-14 1994-09-14 Alteration of immune response using pan DR-binding peptides
US08344824 US20030152580A1 (en) 1994-07-21 1994-11-23 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US34761094 true 1994-12-01 1994-12-01
US34917794 true 1994-12-02 1994-12-02
US45191395 true 1995-05-26 1995-05-26
US45403395 true 1995-05-26 1995-05-26
US08452843 US20020098197A1 (en) 1994-07-21 1995-05-30 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US48521895 true 1995-06-07 1995-06-07
US59029896 true 1996-01-23 1996-01-23
US58910796 true 1996-01-23 1996-01-23
US58910896 true 1996-01-23 1996-01-23
US1311396 true 1996-03-11 1996-03-11
US1398096 true 1996-03-21 1996-03-21
US1383396 true 1996-03-21 1996-03-21
US75361596 true 1996-11-27 1996-11-27
US75362296 true 1996-11-27 1996-11-27
US75840996 true 1996-11-27 1996-11-27
US81539697 true 1997-03-10 1997-03-10
US82238297 true 1997-03-20 1997-03-20
US08821739 US20020168374A1 (en) 1992-08-07 1997-03-20 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US1773598 true 1998-02-03 1998-02-03
US1752498 true 1998-02-03 1998-02-03
US09017743 US20020177694A1 (en) 1996-01-23 1998-02-03 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US9858498 true 1998-06-17 1998-06-17
US09189702 US7252829B1 (en) 1998-06-17 1998-11-10 HLA binding peptides and their uses
US22677599 true 1999-01-06 1999-01-06
US26071499 true 1999-03-01 1999-03-01
US14142299 true 1999-06-29 1999-06-29
US34610599 true 1999-06-30 1999-06-30
PCT/US2000/017842 WO2001000225A1 (en) 1999-06-29 2000-06-28 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US66551000 true 2000-09-19 2000-09-19
US24235000 true 2000-10-19 2000-10-19
US26496901 true 2001-01-29 2001-01-29
US28562401 true 2001-04-20 2001-04-20
US09935476 US20040096445A1 (en) 1999-06-30 2001-08-22 Subunit vaccines with A2 supermotifs
PCT/US2001/051650 WO2003040165A3 (en) 2000-10-19 2001-10-18 Hla class i and ii binding peptides and their uses
PCT/US2002/002708 WO2002061435A3 (en) 2001-01-29 2002-01-29 Subunit vaccines with a2 supermotifs
US10121415 US20020160960A1 (en) 1993-11-29 2002-04-11 HLA binding peptides and their uses
US3001402 true 2002-07-24 2002-07-24
US41620702 true 2002-10-03 2002-10-03
US41726902 true 2002-10-08 2002-10-08
PCT/US2003/031308 WO2004031211A8 (en) 2002-10-03 2003-10-03 Hla binding peptides and their uses
US10817970 US9340577B2 (en) 1992-08-07 2004-04-06 HLA binding motifs and peptides and their uses
US11978519 US20080260762A1 (en) 1992-08-07 2007-10-30 HLA binding motifs and peptides and their uses

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