Class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted CD8+ T cells have been demonstrated to be effective mediators of both acquired and adoptive immunity to the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. We have recently determined that L. monocytogenes-infected H-2d mice recognize a nonamer peptide, residues 91-99, of the secreted protein listeriolysin O (LLO), in a H-2Kd-restricted fashion. In this report we have generated CD8+ T cell lines with specificity for LLO 91-99 in the context of H-2Kd by in vitro stimulation with P815 (H-2d) cells transfected with LLO. These CD8+ lines have been generated from immune donors after sublethal infection with L. monocytogenes, or after in vivo immunization with syngeneic spleen cells coated with synthetic LLO 91-99 peptide. LLO-specific CD8+ T cells derived from either protocol were capable of significant protection against L. monocytogenes infection. The in vivo protection by these CD8+ T cell lines has been shown to be solely due to recognition of LLO 91-99 in the context of H-2Kd. These studies demonstrate that CD8+ T cell immunity to a single, naturally produced peptide epitope has the potential for significant protection in a bacterial infection. Thus, the allele-specific motif approach to epitope prediction has identified a naturally produced bacterial epitope with biological relevance.

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