CD8+ T cell responses in convalescent COVID-19 individuals target epitopes from the entire SARS-CoV-2 proteome and show kinetics of early differentiation

Characterization of the T cell response in individuals who recover from SARS-CoV-2 infection is critical to understanding its contribution to protective immunity. A multiplexed peptide-MHC tetramer approach was used to screen 408 SARS-CoV-2 candidate epitopes for CD8+ T cell recognition in a cross-sectional sample of 30 COVID-19 convalescent individuals. T cells were evaluated using a 28-marker phenotypic panel, and findings were modelled against time from diagnosis, humoral and inflammatory responses. 132 distinct SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cell epitope responses across six different HLAs were detected, corresponding to 52 unique reactivities. T cell responses were directed against several structural and non-structural virus proteins. Modelling demonstrated a coordinated and dynamic immune response characterized by a decrease in inflammation, increase in neutralizing antibody titer, and differentiation of a specific CD8+ T cell response. Overall, T cells exhibited distinct differentiation into stem-cell and transitional memory states, subsets, which may be key to developing durable protection.

Kared et al. | J Clin Invest. 2021

Unbiased Profiling Reveals Compartmentalization of Unconventional T-Cells Within the Intestinal Mucosa Irrespective of HIV Infection

The intestinal mucosa is enriched for unconventional T-cells, including mucosal associated invariant T-cells (MAIT), invariant natural killer T-cells (iNKT) and γδ T-cells. These cells are activated by bacterial metabolites, lipid antigens and cytokines, and are important for intestinal barrier integrity. The loss of gut homeostasis observed in HIV infection is central to disease pathogenesis, and studies have highlighted impairment of particular unconventional T-cell subsets within a specific gut compartment. However, although the small and large intestine are distinct niches, the overall impact of HIV on unconventional T-cells across the gut mucosal has not been well-studied. We hypothesized that compartment specific differences in the unconventional T-cell repertoire would exist between the small and large intestine, due to increasing bacterial loads and microbial diversity; and that the impact of HIV infection might differ depending on the compartment examined. We used mass cytometry, flow cytometry and unbiased T-cell receptor profiling to quantify unconventional T-cells in blood and tissue from the small (duodenum) and large (colon) intestine in HIV infected and uninfected participants undergoing examination for a range of intestinal conditions. Overall, we find distinct compartmentalisation of T-cells between blood, duodenum and colon, with iNKT cells significantly enriched in the duodenum and δ-1 expressing γδ T-cells in the colon. In addition, we observe greater clonal expansion of conventional TCRs in the duodenum, suggestive of stronger adaptive immunity in this compartment. Conversely, we find evidence of an expanded unconventional TCR repertoire in the colon, which contained far more overlapping “donor unrestricted” sequences than the duodenum. Twelve of these TCRs were highly “MAIT-like” and 3 were unique to the colon, suggesting an enrichment of donor unrestricted T-cells (DURTs) in this compartment. Unexpectedly, however, no significant impact of HIV infection on any of the unconventional T-cell subsets measured was observed in either mucosal site in terms of frequency or TCR repertoire. Further studies are required to investigate the importance of these unconventional T-cell subsets to intestinal homeostasis within the different gut compartments and determine if they are functionally impaired during HIV infection.

Magnoumba et al. | Front. Immunol. 2020

Partial absence of PD‐1 expression by tumor‐infiltrating EBV‐specific CD8+ T cells in EBV‐driven lymphoepithelioma‐like carcinoma

Lymphoepithelioma‐like carcinoma (LELC) is an uncommon lung cancer, typically observed in young, non‐smoking Asian populations. LELC is associated with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection of lung tumor cells of epithelial origin, suggesting a carcinogenic role of EBV as observed in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Here, we studied the antigen specificity and phenotype of EBV‐specific CD8+ T cells in blood and tumor of one LELC patient positive for EBV infection in lung tumor cells.

Simoni et al. | Clinical & Translational Immunology 2020

High-dimensional Characterization of the Systemic Immune Landscape Informs on Synergism between Radiotherapy and Immune Checkpoint Blockade

Improved anti-tumor responses have been observed in patients following combination radiotherapy (RT) and immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Whether these clinical responses are linked to the host systemic immune system has not been elucidated.

Chua et al | Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys . 2020

Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Upregulate PVRL1, Stabilizing PVR and Inhibiting the Cytotoxic T-cell Response via TIGIT to Mediate Tumor Resistance to PD1 Inhibitors in Mice

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are effective in treatment of some hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), but these tumors do not always respond to inhibitors of programmed cell death 1 (PDCD1, also called PD1). We investigated mechanisms of resistance of liver tumors in mice to infiltrating T cells.

Chiu et al | Gastroenterology 2020

Human Tumor-Infiltrating MAIT Cells Display Hallmarks of Bacterial Antigen Recognition in Colorectal Cancer

Growing evidence indicates a role for the gut microbiota in modulating anti-tumor treatment efficacy in human cancer. Here we study mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells to look for evidence of bacterial antigen recognition in human colon, lung, and kidney carcinomas. Using mass cytometry and single-cell mRNA sequencing, we identify a tumor-infiltrating MAIT cell subset expressing CD4 and Foxp3 and observe high expression of CD39 on MAIT cells from colorectal cancer (CRC) only, which we show in vitro to be expressed specifically after TCR stimulation. We further reveal that these cells are phenotypically and functionally exhausted. Sequencing data show high bacterial infiltration in CRC tumors and highlight an enriched species, Fusobacteria nucleatum, with capability to activate MAIT cells in a TCR-dependent way. Our results provide evidence of a MAIT cell response to microbial antigens in CRC and could pave the way for manipulating MAIT cells or the microbiome for cancer therapy.

Li S et al. | Cell Reports Medicine 2020

Large-Scale HLA Tetramer Tracking of T Cells during Dengue Infection Reveals Broad Acute Activation and Differentiation into Two Memory Cell Fates

T cells play important multifaceted roles during dengue infection, and understanding their responses is important for defining correlates of protective immunity and identifying effective vaccine antigens. Using mass cytometry and a highly multiplexed peptide-HLA (human leukocyte antigen) tetramer staining strategy, we probed T cells from dengue patients-a total of 430 dengue and control candidate epitopes-together with key markers of activation, trafficking, and differentiation. During acute disease, dengue-specific CD8+ T cells expressed a distinct profile of activation and trafficking receptors that distinguished them from non-dengue-specific T cells. During convalescence, dengue-specific T cells differentiated into two major cell fates, CD57+ CD127-resembling terminally differentiated senescent memory cells and CD127+ CD57-resembling proliferation-capable memory cells. Validation in an independent cohort showed that these subsets remained at elevated frequencies up to one year after infection. These analyses aid our understanding of the generation of T cell memory in dengue infection or vaccination.

Chng et al. | Immunity 2019

Multifactorial heterogeneity of virus-specific T cells and association with the progression of human chronic hepatitis B infection

Associations between chronic antigen stimulation, T cell dysfunction, and the expression of various inhibitory receptors are well characterized in several mouse and human systems. During chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (CHB), T cell responses are blunted with low frequencies of virus-specific T cells observed, making these parameters difficult to study. Here, using mass cytometry and a highly multiplexed combinatorial peptide–major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) tetramer strategy that allows for the detection of rare antigen-specific T cells, we simultaneously probed 484 unique HLA-A*1101–restricted epitopes spanning the entire HBV genome on T cells from patients at various stages of CHB. Numerous HBV-specific T cell populations were detected, validated, and profiled. T cells specific for two epitopes (HBVpol387 and HBVcore169) displayed differing and complex heterogeneities that were associated with the disease progression, and the expression of inhibitory receptors on these cells was not linearly related with their extent of T cell dysfunction. For HBVcore169-specific CD8+ T cells, we found cellular markers associated with long-term memory, polyfunctionality, and the presence of several previously unidentified public TCR clones that correlated with viral control. Using high-dimensional trajectory analysis of these cellular phenotypes, a pseudo-time metric was constructed that fit with the status of viral infection in corresponding patients. This was validated in a longitudinal cohort of patients undergoing antiviral therapy. Our study uncovers complex relationships of inhibitory receptors between the profiles of antigen-specific T cells and the status of CHB with implications for new strategies of therapeutic intervention.

Cheng et al. | Science Immunology 2019

Late-differentiated effector neoantigen-specific CD8+ T cells are enriched in peripheral blood of non-small cell lung carcinoma patients responding to atezolizumab treatment

There is strong evidence that immunotherapy-mediated tumor rejection can be driven by tumor-specific CD8+ T cells reinvigorated to recognize neoantigens derived from tumor somatic mutations. Thus, the frequencies or characteristics of tumor-reactive, mutation-specific CD8+ T cells could be used as biomarkers of an anti-tumor response. However, such neoantigen-specific T cells are difficult to reliably identify due to their low frequency in peripheral blood and wide range of potential epitope specificities.

Fehlings et al. | J Immunother Cancer 2019

Dimensionality reduction for visualizing single-cell data using UMAP

Advances in single-cell technologies have enabled high-resolution dissection of tissue composition. Several tools for dimensionality reduction are available to analyze the large number of parameters generated in single-cell studies. Recently, a nonlinear dimensionality-reduction technique, uniform manifold approximation and projection (UMAP), was developed for the analysis of any type of high-dimensional data. Here we apply it to biological data, using three well-characterized mass cytometry and single-cell RNA sequencing datasets. Comparing the performance of UMAP with five other tools, we find that UMAP provides the fastest run times, highest reproducibility and the most meaningful organization of cell clusters. The work highlights the use of UMAP for improved visualization and interpretation of single-cell data.

Becht et al. | Nature Biotechnology 2019