European Journal of Immunology vol:30 issue:1 pages:291-9
Peptides containing major T cell epitopes have the capacity to induce T cell anergy and have therefore been proposed for the treatment of allergic and autoimmune diseases. Such peptides should not be immunogenic, i. e. should not contain a B cell recognition site. We have evaluated in BALB/c mice the therapeutic potential of a 15-mer peptide (p21 - 35) derived from Der p2, a major allergen of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, which contains a dominant T cell epitope but is not recognized by antibodies to Der p2. Unexpectedly, p21 - 35 elicited strong immune responses, suggesting the presence of a cryptic B cell epitope. Similar results were obtained with mice of three additional MHC haplotypes. A core sequence of four amino acids (Ile-Ile-His-Arg) corresponding to residues 28 - 31 was shared by the B and T cell epitopes. Critical residues for B cell recognition were Arg31 and Lys33, while Ile28 was essential for T cell recognition. A Lys33Ala mutant of p21 - 35 still activated T cells but had much reduced immunogenic properties, making it a suitable alternative peptide for T cell anergy induction. Careful investigation of the immunogenic potential of peptides used to induce T cell anergy should be carried out prior to their clinical application.