COVID-19 Patients Form Memory CD8+ T Cells that Recognize a Small Set of Shared Immunodominant Epitopes in SARS-CoV-2
51 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2020 Publication Status: Review CompleteMore...
Development of effective strategies to detect, treat, or prevent COVID-19 requires a robust understanding of natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2, including the cellular response mediated by T cells. We used an unbiased, genome-wide screening technology to comprehensively identify the specific epitopes in SARS-CoV-2 that are recognized by the memory CD8+ T cells of 25 COVID-19 convalescent patients. For each of six HLA types examined, patient T cells recognized 3–8 immunodominant epitopes that are broadly shared among patients, and single-cell sequencing revealed common structural features of TCRs recognizing these epitopes. We detected minimal cross-reactivity to the endemic coronaviruses that cause the common cold, arguing that pre-existing immunity to other coronaviruses does not significantly shape CD8+ T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2. Notably, only 3 of the 29 immunodominant epitopes we identified reside in the Spike protein, highlighting the need for second-generation vaccines that recapitulate natural CD8+ T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
Funding: This work was supported by TScan Therapeutics, a privately-owned biotechnology company.
Ethical Approval: The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (1996), approved by the Atlantic Health System Institutional Review Board and the Ochsner Clinic Foundation Institutional Review Board and registered at clinicaltrials.gov (# NCT04397900).
Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus, CD8+ T cell, Unbiased, genome-wide screen, Immunodominant epitopes, vaccine design, T cell diagnostics, TCR therapeutics
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