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Glycoprotein K (gK) is a virion envelope component of herpes simplex virus types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), which plays an important role in virion morphogenesis and egress. We previously demonstrated that immunization of mice with gK, but not with any of the 10 other HSV-1 glycoproteins, resulted in exacerbation of corneal scarring and herpetic dermatitis following ocular HSV-1 infection. However, little is known about the gK epitope(s) that is (are) involved in T cell activities in vitro or in vivo. Thus, epitope mapping of gK was performed using a panel of 15-mer peptides with five-amino acid overlaps spanning the full-length gK, and four expressed gK recombinant proteins representing different regions of gK. Epitope mapping within the gK polypeptide defined the amino acid sequence STVVLITAYGLVLVW as the predominant CD4+ and CD8+ T cell stimulatory region both in vitro and in vivo. IFN-γ expression by CD4+ T cells was CD8+ T cells-dependent. This immunodominant epitope is located within the signal sequence of the gK polypeptide and is highly conserved in HSV-1 and HSV-2 strains. Using prediction algorithms, the peptide is predicted to bind to numerous MHC class I and class II molecules. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Virus Research

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