Madhurantakam C, Duru AD, Sandalova T, Webb JR, Achour A
PLoS ONE 7 (3) e32805 [2012-03-14; online 2012-03-14]
Nitrotyrosination of proteins, a hallmark of inflammation, may result in the production of MHC-restricted neoantigens that can be recognized by T cells and bypass the constraints of immunological self-tolerance. Here we biochemically and structurally assessed how nitrotyrosination of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-associated immunodominant MHC class I-restricted epitopes gp33 and gp34 alters T cell recognition in the context of both H-2D(b) and H-2K(b). Comparative analysis of the crystal structures of H-2K(b)/gp34 and H-2K(b)/NY-gp34 demonstrated that nitrotyrosination of p3Y in gp34 abrogates a hydrogen bond interaction formed with the H-2K(b) residue E152. As a consequence the conformation of the TCR-interacting E152 was profoundly altered in H-2K(b)/NY-gp34 when compared to H-2K(b)/gp34, thereby modifying the surface of the nitrotyrosinated MHC complex. Furthermore, nitrotyrosination of gp34 resulted in structural over-packing, straining the overall conformation and considerably reducing the stability of the H-2K(b)/NY-gp34 MHC complex when compared to H-2K(b)/gp34. Our structural analysis also indicates that nitrotyrosination of the main TCR-interacting residue p4Y in gp33 abrogates recognition of H-2D(b)/gp33-NY complexes by H-2D(b)/gp33-specific T cells through sterical hindrance. In conclusion, this study provides the first structural and biochemical evidence for how MHC class I-restricted nitrotyrosinated neoantigens may enable viral escape and break immune tolerance.