Infectious Disease Research

The immunoSEQ® Assay can be leveraged to study the immune response elicited by infectious diseases or vaccines and to analyze the efficacy of inducing persistent memory. Study the repertoire properties associated with disease and vaccine response, identify antigen-specific clones, track clones over time, and more. Use the immunoSEQ Analyzer tools to monitor the overall repertoire response to infection or vaccination with repertoire diversity measures such as clonality.

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  • WVC Blog
    Emerging themes around the T-cell response & COVID-19

    A look back at some of our discussions at World Vaccine Congress 2021 — At the World Vaccine Congress 2021, held May 4-6, leading research and industry partners discussed the challenges and trends in the evolving COVID-19 and vaccine development landscape.

  • Mouse Webinar
    Research Applications of the immunoSEQ Assay in Mouse Models

    In this webinar, Dr. Richard DiPaolo, from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, will be discussing data generated in his laboratory that used the immunoSEQ Assay along with various bioinformatic approaches to identify and track virus-specific T cells circulating in blood over long periods of time, determine the impact of immunotherapy on tumor-infiltrating T cells, and to quantitate the diversity of T cells specific for peptides from ZIKA virus.

New and Key Publications

Bozhanova et al., PNAS 2020

Discovery of Marburg virus neutralizing antibodies from virus-naïve human antibody repertoires using large-scale structural predictions

Marburg virus (MARV) disease is lethal, with fatality rates up to 90%. Neutralizing antibodies (Abs) are promising drug candidates to prevent or treat the disease. Current efforts are focused in part on vaccine development to induce such MARV-neutralizing Abs. We analyzed the antibody repertoire from healthy unexposed and previously MARV-infected individuals to assess if naïve repertoires contain suitable precursor antibodies that could become neutralizing with a limited set of somatic mutations. We computationally searched the human Ab variable gene repertoire for predicted structural homologs of the neutralizing Ab MR78 that is specific to the receptor binding site (RBS) of MARV glycoprotein (GP). Eight Ab heavy-chain complementarity determining region 3 (HCDR3) loops from MARV-naïve individuals and one from a previously MARV-infected individual were selected for testing as HCDR3 loop chimeras on the MR78 Ab framework. Three of these chimerized antibodies bound to MARV GP. We then tested a full-length native Ab heavy chain encoding the same 17-residue-long HCDR3 loop that bound to the MARV GP the best among the chimeric Abs tested. Despite only 57% amino acid sequence identity, the Ab from a MARV-naïve donor recognized MARV GP and possessed neutralizing activity against the virus. Crystallization of both chimeric and full-length native heavy chain-containing Abs provided structural insights into the mechanism of binding for these types of Abs. Our work suggests that the MARV GP RBS is a promising candidate for epitope-focused vaccine design to induce neutralizing Abs against MARV.

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Pilkinton et al., Journal of Virology 2021

In chronic infection, HIV gag-specific CD4+ T cell receptor diversity is higher than CD8+ T cell receptor diversity and is associated with less HIV quasispecies diversity

Cellular immune responses to Gag correlate with improved HIV viral control. The full extent of cellular immune responses comprise both the number of epitopes recognized by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, as well as the diversity of the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire directed against each epitope. The optimal diversity of the responsive TCR repertoire is unclear. Therefore, we evaluated the TCR diversity of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells responding to HIV-1 Gag to determine if TCR diversity correlates with clinical or virologic metrics. Previous studies of TCR repertoires have been limited primarily to CD8+ T cell responses directed against a small number of well-characterized T cell epitopes restricted by specific human leucocyte antigens. We stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 21chronic HIV-infected individuals overnight with a pool of HIV-1 Gag peptides, followed by sorting of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and TCR deep sequencing. We found Gag-reactive CD8+ T cells to be more oligoclonal, with a few dominant TCRs comprising the bulk of the repertoire, compared to the highly diverse TCR repertoires of Gag-reactive CD4+ T cells. HIV viral sequencing of the same donors revealed that high CD4+ T cell TCR diversity was strongly associated with lower HIV Gag genetic diversity. We conclude that the TCR repertoire of Gag-reactive CD4+ T helper cells display substantial diversity without a clearly dominant circulating TCR clonotype, in contrast to a hierarchy of dominant TCR clonotypes in the Gag-reactive CD8+ T cells, and may serve to limit HIV diversity during chronic infection. IMPORTANCE Human T cells recognize portions of viral proteins bound to host molecules (human leucocyte antigens) on the surface of infected cells. T cells recognize these foreign proteins through their T cell receptors (TCRs), which are formed by the assortment of several available V, D and J genes to create millions of combinations of unique TCRs. We measured the diversity of T cells responding to the HIV Gag protein. We found the CD8+ T cell response is primarily made up of a few dominant unique TCRs whereas the CD4+ T cell subset has a much more diverse repertoire of TCRs. We also found there was less change in the virus sequences in subjects with more diverse TCR repertoires. HIV has a high mutation rate, which allows it to evade the immune response. Our findings describe the characteristics of a virus-specific T cell response that may allow it to limit viral evolution.

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Simonetti F et al., J Clin Invest. 2021

Antigen-driven clonal selection shapes the persistence of HIV-1 infected CD4+ T cells in vivo

Clonal expansion of infected CD4+ T cells is a major mechanism of HIV-1 persistence and a barrier to achieving a cure. Potential causes are homeostatic proliferation, effects of HIV-1 integration, and interaction with antigens. Here, we show that it is possible to link antigen responsiveness, the full proviral sequence, the integration site, and the T cell receptor β-chain (TCRβ) sequence to examine the role of recurrent antigenic exposure in maintaining the HIV-1 reservoir. We isolated CMV- and Gag-responding CD4+ T cells from 10 treated individuals. Proviral populations in CMV-responding cells were dominated by large clones, including clones harboring replication-competent proviruses. TCRβ repertoires showed high clonality driven by converging adaptive responses. Although some proviruses were in genes linked to HIV-1 persistence (BACH2, STAT5B, MKL1), the proliferation of infected cells under antigenic stimulation occurred regardless of the site of integration. Paired TCRβ and integration site analysis showed that infection could occur early or late in the course of a clone's response to antigen and could generate infected cell populations too large to be explained solely by homeostatic proliferation. Together, these findings implicate antigen-driven clonal selection as a major factor in HIV-1 persistence, a finding that will be a difficult challenge to eradication efforts.

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Hassert et al., PLOS NTD 2020

Diagnostic differentiation of Zika and dengue virus exposure by analyzing T cell receptor sequences from peripheral blood of infected HLA-A2 transgenic mice

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a significant global health threat due to its potential for rapid emergence and association with severe congenital malformations during infection in pregnancy. Despite the urgent need, accurate diagnosis of ZIKV infection is still a major hurdle that must be overcome. Contributing to the inaccuracy of most serologically-based diagnostic assays for ZIKV, is the substantial geographic and antigenic overlap with other flaviviruses, including the four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV). Within this study, we have utilized a novel T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing platform to distinguish between ZIKV and DENV infections. Using high-throughput TCR sequencing of lymphocytes isolated from DENV and ZIKV infected mice, we were able to develop an algorithm which could identify virus-associated TCR sequences uniquely associated with either a prior ZIKV or DENV infection in mice. Using this algorithm, we were then able to separate mice that had been exposed to ZIKV or DENV infection with 97% accuracy. Overall this study serves as a proof-of-principle that T cell receptor sequencing can be used as a diagnostic tool capable of distinguishing between closely related viruses. Our results demonstrate the potential for this innovative platform to be used to accurately diagnose Zika virus infection and potentially the next emerging pathogen(s).

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Infectious Disease Research Application Overview

Learn about how the immunoSEQ Assay and immunoSEQ Analyzer can be leveraged to understand the immune response in relation to infectious disease and vaccination including characterization of repertoire dynamics, comparisons of initial vs. memory immune responses, identification of infection-associated clones and tracking of clones longitudinally.

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Successive annual influenza vaccination induces a recurrent oligoclonotypic memory response in circulating T follicular helper cells

Learn how Herati et al. used the immunoSEQ Assay to evaluate clonal expansion in response to vaccination at the repertoire and individual clone levels.

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COVID-19 Applications

Learn how immunoSEQ® T-MAP™ COVID can help uncover the T-cell immune response in COVID-19.

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