Pneumocystis is the most common fungal pulmonary infection in children under 5. In children with primary immunodeficiency, Pneumocystis often presents at 3-6 months that coincides with the nadir of maternal IgG and where IgM is the dominant immunoglobulin isotype. Since B cells are the dominant antigen-presenting cells for Pneumocystis, we hypothesized the presence of fungal specific IgMs in human and mice and that these IgM specificities would predict T cell antigens. We detected fungal specific IgMs in human and mouse serum and utilized immunoprecipitation to determine if any antigens were similar across donors. We then assessed T cell responses to these antigens. We found anti-Pneumocystis IgM in wild-type mice as well as Aicda-/- mice and in human cord blood. Immunoprecipitation of Pneumocystis murina with human cord blood identified shared antigens among these donors. Using class II MHC binding prediction, we designed peptides with these antigens and identified robust peptide specific lung T cell responses after P. murina infection. After mice were immunized with two of the antigens, adoptive transfer of vaccine elicited CD4+ T cells showed effector activity suggesting that these antigens contain protective Pneumocystis epitopes. These data support the notion that germline encoded IgM B-cell receptors are critical in antigen presentation and T cell priming in early Pneumocystis infection.
Kristin Noell, Guixiang Dai, Dora Pungan, Anna Ebacher, Janet E. McCombs, Samuel J. Landry, Jay K. Kolls