This study addresses the relationship of epitope-specific Ab responses and alternative autoantibody responses in a model system in which an antigenized self protein serves as the carrier for a defined heterologous B cell epitope. Ubiquitin, a nonimmunogenic self protein, was engineered to present heterologous B and T cell epitopes in the recombinant molecule. Fusion to the C terminus introduced a universal T cell epitope from a Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ag. The B cell epitope was created by inserting a 12-residue loop sequence of HFV-1 gp120 at a surface-exposed position of ubiquitin. These modifications preserved the ubiquitin fold, allowing a new conformational epitope to be presented among native self epitopes. Mice immunized with the hybrid protein bearing only the mycobacterial T cell epitope elicited a strong autoantibody response to native ubiquitin. In contrast, antisera elicited against hybrid ubiquitin presenting the HIV B cell epitope reacted specifically with the foreign epitope but not with native ubiquitin. Absence of autoantibody in the response was attributed to poor competition of autoreactive B cells for limiting T cell help. Both types of responses were associated with Th responses to defined epitopes of the ubiquitin hybrid protein. These results may have implications for a tolerance mechanism dependent on B-T cell cooperation.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|State||Published - Dec 15 1998|
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