CD4+ T cell-mediated immunity plays a central role in determining the immunopathogenesis of viral infections. However, the role of CD4+ T cells in EV71 infection, which causes hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), has yet to be elucidated. We applied a sophisticated method to identify promiscuous CD4+ T cell epitopes contained within the sequence of the EV71 polyprotein. Fifteen epitopes were identified, and three of them are dominant ones. The most dominant epitope is highly conserved among enterovirus species, including HFMD-related coxsackieviruses, HFMD-unrelated echoviruses and polioviruses. Furthermore, the CD4+ T cells specific to the epitope indeed cross-reacted with the homolog of poliovirus 3 Sabin. Our findings imply that CD4+ T cell responses to poliovirus following vaccination, or to other enteroviruses to which individuals may be exposed in early childhood, may have a modulating effect on subsequent CD4+ T cell response to EV71 infection or vaccine.
Wei, R., Yang, C., Zeng, M., Terry, F., Zhu, K., Yang, C., … Leng, Q. (2012). A Dominant EV71-Specific CD4+ T Cell Epitope Is Highly Conserved among Human Enteroviruses. PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051957