Date of this Version
Massilamany C, Gangaplara A, Jia T, Elowsky C, Kang G, et al. (2014) Direct Staining with Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Dextramers Permits Detection of Antigen-Specific, Autoreactive CD4 T Cells In Situ. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87519. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087519
We report here the utility of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II dextramers for in situ detection of self-reactive CD4 T cells in two target organs, the brain and heart. We optimized the conditions for in situ detection of antigen-specific CD4 T cells using brain sections obtained from SJL mice immunized with myelin proteolipid protein (PLP) 139–151; the sections were costained with IAs/PLP 139–151 (specific) or Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) 70–86 (control) dextramers and anti-CD4. Analysis of sections by laser scanning confocal microscope revealed detection of cells positive for PLP 139–151 but not for TMEV 70–86 dextramers to be colocalized with CD4-expressing T cells, indicating that the staining was specific to PLP 139–151 dextramers. Further, we devised a method to reliably enumerate the frequencies of antigenspecific T cells by counting the number of dextramer+ CD4+ T cells in the ‘Z’ serial images acquired sequentially. We next extended these observations to detect cardiac myosin-specific T cells in autoimmune myocarditis induced in A/J mice by immunizing with cardiac myosin heavy chain-α (Myhc) 334–352. Heart sections prepared from immunized mice were costained with Myhc 334–352 (specific) or bovine ribonuclease 43–56 (control) dextramers together with anti-CD4; the sections showed the infiltrations of Myhc-specific CD4 T cells. The data suggest that MHC class II dextramers are useful tools for enumerating the frequencies of antigen-specific CD4 T cells in situ by direct staining without having to amplify the fluorescent signals, an approach commonly employed with conventional MHC tetramers.
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