Transfection of thyroid autoantigens into EBV-transformed B cell lines. Recognition by Graves' disease thyroid T cells.
Mullins RJ., Chernajovsky Y., Dayan C., Londei M., Feldmann M.
Autologous EBV-transformed B cell lines (EBVL) from a patient with Graves' disease (GD) were transfected with the expression vector pREP4 encoding thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR), or chloramphenicol acetyl transferase. The relevant proteins were expressed. The capacity of EBVL to present transfected Ag was assessed by using EBVL transfected with TPO (EBVL-TPO) to stimulate TPO-specific T cells cloned from autologous thyroid tissue; stimulation indices greater than 100 were consistently obtained, even at low APC:T cell ratios. EBVL-TPO and EBVL transfected with TSHR (EBVL-TSHR) were used to characterize the Ag specificity of five thyroid epithelial cell-specific T cell clones. Despite previous unresponsiveness to recombinant TPO or purified thyroglobulin, four of these clones responded vigorously to EBVL-TPO but none responded to EBVL-TSHR. Experiments were then performed to determine whether transfected EBVL were presenting endogenously synthesized TPO, or were taking up and reprocessing exogenous Ag shed from the surface of adjacent cells. The stimulatory capacity of EBVL-TPO was not transferable to untransfected EBVL by cell-free culture supernatant and to only a minor degree by EBVL-TPO-derived cell membrane fragments, indicating that the majority of the TPO presented by the transfected EBVL is endogenously synthesized. The clear and reproducible proliferative responses obtained illustrate the usefulness and potency of this method of Ag presentation to T cells. Because this system obviates the need for large numbers of autologous APC or purified recombinant Ag, it will be useful for obtaining autoantigen-reactive T cells and to help define the autoantigenic epitopes recognized.