Systematic Search Fails to Detect Immunogenic MHC Class-I-Restricted Determinants Encoded by Influenza A Virus Noncoding Sequences Academic Article uri icon


  • It has been demonstrated in a number of systems that CD8+ T cells (T CD8+) can be induced by peptides encoded in alternative reading frames (ARFs) that do not appear to code for bona fide proteins. The biological relevance of ARF peptides remains to be firmly established, however. With this as a goal, we systematically searched for ARF determinants recognized by mouse T CD8+ induced by influenza A virus infection. Of 35 candidate ARF peptides that matched H-2 Db, Kb, or Kd binding motifs, we found that 13 bind to their respective class I molecules at or above the minimal affinity associated with immunogenicity established by past studies. Nine of these peptides were able to induce T CD8+ capable of recognizing peptide-coated target cells. Of these, only a lone determinant is antigenic and immunogenic in the context of influenza A virus infections. Ironically, this peptide is derived from a reading frame that encodes a previously unknown influenza virus protein. These findings suggest that alternative reading frames are not a significant source of antigenic peptides in influenza virus infections and raise doubts regarding the general biological significance of ARF determinants.

publication date

  • January 2003