To identify Mengo virus-specific T cell epitopes in mice (the natural host for the virus), lymph node cells were obtained from BALB/c ( ) mice, previously immunized with u.v.-inactivated virus, and stimulated with each of 116 overlapping peptides (10 to 18 residues long) covering the entire capsid coding region (834 amino acids). T cell epitopes were defined on the basis of specific peptide-induced lymphocyte proliferation. Where proliferation occurred, immunological characterization showed that it was the CD4 T helper (T) cell subpopulation that was responsible for the Mengo virus-specific response. Surprisingly, no Mengo virus T cell epitopes were found in capsid protein VP1 or VP4. Six peptides in VP2 (residues 1 to 15, 99 to 108, 118 to 132, 133 to 147, 227 to 236 and 247 to 256) identified the positions of separate T cell epitopes, and two overlapping peptides (residues 173 to 182 and 178 to 192) defined an additional T cell immunogenic sequence. Three individual peptides in VP3 (residues 46 to 58, 136 to 150 and 198 to 212) and two overlapping peptides (residues 1 to 15 and 11 to 20) also represent T cell epitopes. Similar assays with C57BL/6 () and SJL/J () mice showed that the pattern of recognition of these peptides was H-2 restricted. Each of the previously identified sites of B cell antigenicity in VP2 and VP3 are associated with one T epitope. Comparison of the experimentally determined T epitopes with potential T cell epitopes identified by several predictive strategies revealed only a low correlation between authentic and predicted epitopes.


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