COVID-19 represents an unprecedented health, social and economic challenge in Australia and around the world. Support Burnet’s COVID-19 emergency response today.
Mutations of peptides to generate altered peptide ligands, capable of switching immune responses from T helper 1 (Th1) to T helper 2 (Th2), are promising candidates for the immunotherapy of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). We synthesized two mutant peptides from myelin basic protein 87-99 (MBP(87-99)), an immunodominant peptide epitope identified in MS. Mutations of residues K(91) and P(96), known to be critical T-cell receptor (TCR) contact sites, resulted in the mutant peptides [R(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99) and [A(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99). Immunization of mice with these altered peptide ligands emulsified in complete Freund’s adjuvant induced both interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) responses compared with only IFN-gamma responses induced to the native MBP(87-99) peptide. It was of interest that [R(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99) conjugated to reduced mannan induced 70% less IFN-gamma compared with the native MBP(87-99) peptide. However, [A(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99) conjugated to reduced mannan did not induce IFN-gamma-secreting T cells, but elicited very high levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4). Furthermore, antibodies generated to [A(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99) peptide conjugated to reduced mannan did not cross-react with the native MBP(87-99) peptide. By molecular modelling of the mutant peptides in complex with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, I-A(s), novel interactions were noted. It is clear that the double-mutant peptide analogue [A(91), A(96)]MBP(87-99) conjugated to reduced mannan is able to divert immune responses from Th1 to Th2 and is a promising mutant peptide analogue for use in studies investigating potential treatments for MS.