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Heterotypic immunity against vaccinia virus in an HLA-B*07:02 transgenic mousepox infection model


Kumar AAmrendra , Suryadevara NCNaveen Chandra , Wolf KJKyle J , Wilson JTJohn T , Di Paolo RJRichard J , Brien JDJames D , Joyce SSebastian . Scientific reports. 2020 8 5; 10(1). 13167


Vaccination with vaccinia virus (VACV) elicits heterotypic immunity to smallpox, monkeypox, and mousepox, the mechanistic basis for which is poorly understood. It is generally assumed that heterotypic immunity arises from the presentation of a wide array of VACV-derived, CD8 T cell epitopes that share homology with other poxviruses. Herein this assumption was tested using a large panel of VACV-derived peptides presented by HLA-B*07:02 (B7.2) molecules in a mousepox/ectromelia virus (ECTV)-infection, B7.2 transgenic mouse model. Most dominant epitopes recognized by ECTV- and VACV-reactive CD8 T cells overlapped significantly without altering immunodominance hierarchy. Further, several epitopes recognized by ECTV-reactive CD8 T cells were not recognized by VACV-reactive CD8 T cells, and vice versa. In one instance, the lack of recognition owed to a N72K variation in the ECTV C4R variant of the dominant VACV B8R epitope. C4R does not bind to B7.2 and, hence, it was neither immunogenic nor antigenic. These findings provide a mechanistic basis for VACV vaccination-induced heterotypic immunity which can protect against Variola and Monkeypox disease. The understanding of how cross-reactive responses develop is essential for the rational design of a subunit-based vaccine that would be safe, and effectively protect against heterologous infection.