Detection of SARS-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in SARS-CoV-2-unexposed donors has been explained by the presence of T cells primed by other coronaviruses. However, based on the relative high frequency and prevalence of cross-reactive T cells, we hypothesized CMV may induce these cross-reactive T cells. Stimulation of pre-pandemic cryo-preserved PBMCs with SARS-CoV-2 peptides revealed that frequencies of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were higher in CMV-seropositive donors. Characterization of these T cells demonstrated that membrane-specific CD4+ and spike-specific CD8+ T cells originate from cross-reactive CMV-specific T cells. Spike-specific CD8+ T cells recognize SARS-CoV-2 spike peptide FVSNGTHWF (FVS) and dissimilar CMV pp65 peptide IPSINVHHY (IPS) presented by HLA-B*35:01. These dual IPS/FVS-reactive CD8+ T cells were found in multiple donors as well as severe COVID-19 patients and shared a common T cell receptor (TCR), illustrating that IPS/FVS-cross-reactivity is caused by a public TCR. In conclusion, CMV-specific T cells cross-react with SARS-CoV-2, despite low sequence homology between the two viruses, and may contribute to the pre-existing immunity against SARS-CoV-2.
Figure 1 - Source data 1 contains percentages underlying figure 1C-F. Figure 4 - Source data 1 contains the sequence data used to generate figures and the data have been deposited in SRA (NCBI) database under BioProjectID PRJNA891934.
TCRa and TCRb sequences of HLA-B*35:01/IPS-isolated T cellsNCBI BioProject, PRJNA891934.
- Mirjam HM Heemskerk
- Stephanie Gras
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: Bio-banked PBMCs were cryopreserved after informed consent from the respective donors, in accordance with the declaration of Helsinki. The samples from COVID-19 patients were part of a trial (NL8589) registered in the Dutch Trial Registry and approved by Medical Ethical Committee Leiden-Den Haag-Delft (NL73740.058.20).
- Gabrielle T Belz, University of Queensland, Australia
- Received: July 21, 2022
- Accepted: November 13, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: November 21, 2022 (version 1)
© 2022, Pothast et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Acid sphingomyelinase (Asm) and acid ceramidase (Ac) are parts of the sphingolipid metabolism. Asm hydrolyzes sphingomyelin to ceramide, which is further metabolized to sphingosine by Ac. Ceramide generates ceramide-enriched platforms that are involved in receptor clustering within cellular membranes. However, the impact of cell-intrinsic ceramide on T cell function is not well characterized. By using T cell-specific Asm- or Ac-deficient mice, with reduced or elevated ceramide levels in T cells, we identified ceramide to play a crucial role in T cell function in vitro and in vivo. T cell-specific ablation of Asm in Smpd1fl/fl/Cd4cre/+ (Asm/CD4cre) mice resulted in enhanced tumor progression associated with impaired T cell responses, whereas Asah1fl/fl/Cd4cre/+ (Ac/CD4cre) mice showed reduced tumor growth rates and elevated T cell activation compared to the respective controls upon tumor transplantation. Further in vitro analysis revealed that decreased ceramide content supports CD4+ regulatory T cell differentiation and interferes with cytotoxic activity of CD8+ T cells. In contrast, elevated ceramide concentration in CD8+ T cells from Ac/CD4cre mice was associated with enhanced cytotoxic activity. Strikingly, ceramide co-localized with the T cell receptor (TCR) and CD3 in the membrane of stimulated T cells and phosphorylation of TCR signaling molecules was elevated in Ac-deficient T cells. Hence, our results indicate that modulation of ceramide levels, by interfering with the Asm or Ac activity has an effect on T cell differentiation and function and might therefore represent a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of T cell-dependent diseases such as tumorigenesis.
EROS (Essential for Reactive Oxygen Species) protein is indispensable for expression of gp91phox, the catalytic core of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. EROS deficiency in humans is a novel cause of the severe immunodeficiency, chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), but its mechanism of action was unknown until now. We elucidate the role of EROS, showing it acts at the earliest stages of gp91phox maturation. It binds the immature 58kDa gp91phox directly, preventing gp91phox degradation and allowing glycosylation via the oligosaccharyltransferase (OST) machinery and the incorporation of the heme prosthetic groups essential for catalysis. EROS also regulates the purine receptors P2X7 and P2X1 through direct interactions and P2X7 is almost absent in EROS deficient mouse and human primary cells. Accordingly, lack of murine EROS results in markedly abnormal P2X7 signalling, inflammasome activation and T cell responses. The loss of both ROS and P2X7 signalling leads to resistance to influenza infection in mice. Our work identifies EROS as a highly selective chaperone for key proteins in innate and adaptive immunity and a rheostat for immunity to infection. It has profound implications for our understanding of immune physiology, ROS dysregulation and possibly gene therapy.