Immunogenicity and conformational properties of an N-linked glycosylated peptide epitope of human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I).

S. F. Conrad, I. J. Byeon, A. M. DiGeorge, Michael Dale Lairmore, M. D. Tsai, P. T. Kaumaya

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8 Scopus citations


The identification and characterization of epitopes of human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I), which elicit an effective humoral or cell-mediated immune response, remains a central obstacle to the development of a peptide-based vaccine against the virus infection. The objective of the studies presented here was to examine the influence of N-linked glycosylation on peptide structure and immunogenicity. We engineered the 233-253 sequence of gp46 of HTLV-I to contain an N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residue at Asn244. Secondary structure prediction using computer algorithms indicated that this peptide may contain a beta-turn at residues 242-246. Recent work with model glycopeptides suggests that beta-turn conformation in peptides may be induced, and probably is stabilized, by the presence of even a single sugar residue. In the present study, the structures of the 233-253 peptide, SC1, and the 233-253(Asn244-GlcNAc) glycopeptide, SC2, were determined. Similar conformation was exhibited by both the glycosylated and nonglycosylated peptide displaying a beta-turn at residues 243-246 and extended-chain structure at the peptide/glycopeptide termini. Both peptides were engineered into chimeric constructs with a promiscuous T-cell epitope from measles virus and were used as immunogens in rabbits. Both chimeric peptides were highly immunogenic in rabbits, producing high-titered antibodies as early as primary + three weeks. The antibodies generated against either construct were able to bind to whole virus (ELISA) and to gp46 (radioimmunoprecipitation assay). Additionally, human sera of individuals known to be positive for HTLV-I recognized both the glycosylated and nonglycosylated constructs. It appears that the 233-253 peptide is able to adopt a conformation that mimics the structure in native gp46, and addition of a GlcNAc residue at Asn244 does not affect the conformational preference or stability of this construct; nor does glycosylation alter immunogenicity but instead appears to enhance immune recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalBiomedical peptides, proteins & nucleic acids : structure, synthesis & biological activity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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