SV40 large T antigen-specific human T cell memory responses

Journal of Medical Virology. 2008 Jun 12;80(8):1497-1504. [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Coleman S, Gibbs A, Butchart E, Mason MD, Jasani B, Tabi Z.

Velindre Hospital, Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff, United Kingdom.


The continued presence of simian virus 40 (SV40), a monkey polyomavirus, in man is confirmed by the regular detection of SV40-specific antibodies in 5-10% of children who are unlikely to have received contaminated polio-vaccines. The aim of our experiments was to find cellular immunological evidence of SV40 infection in humans by testing memory T cell responses to SV40 large T antigen (Tag). As there is some indication that the virus may be present in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) cells, we analyzed T cell responses in MPM patients and in healthy donors. The frequencies of responding T cells to overlapping Tag peptides were tested by cytokine flow cytometry. CD8+ T cells from 4 of 32 MPM patients responded (above twofold of control) to SV40 Tag peptides, while no positive responses were detected in 12 healthy donors. Within SV40 Tag we identified three 15 amino acid-long immunogenic sequences and one 9 amino acid-long T cell epitope (p138) (138FPSELLSFL146), the latter including a HLA-B7-restriction motif. T cell responses to p138 were SV40-specific as T cells stimulated with p138 did not cross-react with the corresponding sequences of Tag of human polyomaviruses BKV and JCV. Similarly, the relevant BKV and JCV Tag peptides did not generate T cell responses against SV40 TAg p138. Peptide-stimulated T cells also killed SV40 Tag-transfected target cells. This article demonstrates the presence, and provides a detailed analysis, of SV40-specific T cell memory in man.

Keywords: polyomavirus, T cell memory, epitope search, SV40.