Background. The T-cell mediated immune responses play a major role in xenograft rejection. However, the mechanisms behind human T-cell recognition of porcine xenoantigens remain to be elucidated. Methods. Human CD8+ T-cell lines were generated against porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAECs) from y/y and z/z haplotypes of Yucatan inbred swine. T-cell clones were obtained by limiting dilution. The human T-cell receptor (TCR)-swine leukocyte antigen (SLA) class I interaction was characterized. Results. The human CD8+ T-cell mediated direct recognition of PAECs was SLA haplotype-specific. The haplotype specificity was restricted by the SLA class I allelic polymorphism. To characterize the role of SLA-bound peptides in the human TCR-SLA class I interaction, we stripped peptides from SLA molecules by a brief acid treatment. Using z/z-specific CD8+ T cells as effectors, we demonstrated that the acid-treatment, which stripped SLA molecules of bound peptides, decreased the lysis of PAECs by 72%. Addition of peptides eluted from affinity purified z/z SLA class I molecules, but not from the irrelevant y/y SLA class I, restored the lysis of acid-treated z/z PAECs. In addition, the lysis of a human HLA class I negative cell line, 721.221, transfected with a relevant SLA class I allele derived from the z/z haplotype, was significantly increased with the addition of relevant z/z peptides. These experiments indicated that both SLA class I and bound peptides were required for recognition by human CD8+ T cells. Cloning studies identified two groups of xenoreactive T-cell clones. Group I clones recognized distinct porcine peptides in the context of SLA class I molecules, whereas group II clones recognized human endogenous cross-reactive peptides presented by SLA class I. Conclusions. Our results demonstrated that, despite the differences in MHC molecules between species, human T-cell recognition of porcine MHC is similar to direct allo-recognition, that is, human TCR recognizes xenogeneic SLA- peptide complexes.
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