Antibody responses to non-immunogenic synthetic peptides induced by co-immunization with immunogenic peptides

C. D. PARTIDOS, O. E. OBEID & M. W. STEWARD Molecular Immunology Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences
Immunology 1992 77 262-266

Chimeric peptides comprising B- and T-helper cell epitopes from the proteins of infectious agents represent immunogens with potential for use as new vaccines. However, it has become clear that the orientation of the epitopes. the presence of spacer residues and the number of copies of the epitopes influence the specificity, levels and affinity of the antibody produced following immunization with such constructs. Furthermore, the response to peptides is under genetic control leading to major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-linked non-responsiveness. In this study, we have investigated the potential of co-immunization of immunogenic peptides (to provide T-cell help) with nonimmunogenic peptides (representing B-cell epitopes) to overcome the non-response to the latter. For this purpose, we have employed peptides representing T- and B-cell epitopes derived from the sequences of the fusion and haemagglutinin glycoproteins of measles virus. The results obtained show that simple co-immunization of a B-cell epitope with a T-cell epitope results in the production of antibody to the B-cell epitope without the requirement for covalent linkage of the two peptides. This approach could thus be used to overcome the problem of poor immunogenicity of peptides and will be of potential value in the design of immunization strategies using synthetic immunogens.