Three different MHC class I molecules bind the same CTL epitope of the influenza virus in a primate species with limited MHC class I diversity

David T. Evans, Leslie A. Knapp, Peicheng Jing, Marian S. Piekarczyk, Virginia S. Hinshaw, David I. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


One of the most remarkable features of the MHC class I loci of most outbred mammalian populations is their exceptional diversity, yet the functional importance of this diversity remains to be fully understood. The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is unusual in having MHC class I loci that exhibit both limited polymorphism and sequence variation. To investigate the functional implications of limited MHC class I diversity in this outbred primate species, we infected five tamarins with influenza virus and defined the CTL epitopes recognized by each individual. In addition to an immunodominant epitope of the viral nucleoprotein (NP) that was recognized by all individuals, two tamarins also made a response to the same epitope of the matrix (M1) protein. Surprisingly, these two tamarins used different MHC class I molecules, Saoe-G*02 and -G*04, to present the M1 epitope. In addition, CTLs from one of the tamarins recognized target cells that expressed neither Saoe-G*02 nor -G*04, but, rather, a third MHC class I molecule, Saoe-G*12. Sequence analysis revealed that Saoe-G*12 differs from both Saoe-G*02 and -G*04 by only two nucleotides and was probably generated by recombination between these two alleles. These results demonstrate that at least three of the tamarin's MHC class I molecules can present the same epitope to virus-specific CTLs. Thus, four of the tamarin's 12 MHC class I molecules bound only two influenza virus CTL epitopes. Therefore, the functional diversity of cotton-top tamarin's MHC class I loci may be even more limited than their genetic diversity suggests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3970-3977
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

Cite this