Autoreactive T cells in patients with Goodpasture's disease are specific for epitopes in the Goodpasture antigen (the NC1 domain of the alpha 3 chain of type IV collagen) that are rapidly destroyed during antigen processing to a degree that diminishes their presentation to T cells. We hypothesized that patients' autoreactive T cells exist because antigen processing prevents presentation of the self-epitopes they recognize, circumventing specific tolerance mechanisms. We predicted that autoreactive T cells specific for these peptides should also exist in healthy individuals, albeit at low frequency and in an unprimed state. We obtained blood from healthy unrelated donors and, using a panel of 45 alpha 3(IV)NC1 peptides, identified alpha 3(IV)NC1-specific T cells in all donors. Thirty-six of 45 peptides elicited a proliferative T cell response from at least one subject, and 6 of the peptides evoked a response in >50% of the individuals. This consistency was not caused by selectivity of HLA class II molecules because the donors expressed a diversity of HLA antigens, but was largely a result of the substrate-specificity of the endosomal proteases Cathepsin D and E. There was a significant correlation between high susceptibility to Cathepsin D digestion and the capacity to stimulate primary T cell responses (P = 0.00006). In summary, healthy individuals have low frequencies of unstimulated alpha 3(IV)NC1-reactive T cells with similar specificities to the autoreactive T cells found in patients with Goodpasture disease. In both cases, existence of the alpha 3(IV)NC1-reactive T cells can be accounted for by destructive processing.
- antigen presentation
- epitope immunodominance
- rhesus polypeptides
Zou, J., Hannier, S., Cairns, L. S., Barker, R. N., Rees, A. J., Turner, A. N., & Phelps, R. G. (2008). Healthy individuals have Goodpasture autoantigen-reactive T cells. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 19(2), 396-404. https://doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2007050546