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A weakened immune response to synthetic Exo-Peptides predicts a potential biosecurity risk in the retrieval of Exo-Microorganisms

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posted on 23.07.2020, 10:51 by Katja Schaefer, Ivy M Dambuza, Sergio Dall’Angelo, Raif Yuecel, Marcel Jaspars, Laurent Trembleau, Matteo Zanda, Gordon D Brown, Mihai G Netea, Neil AR Gow
The discovery of liquid water at several locations in the solar system raises the possibility that microbial life may have evolved outside Earth and as such could be accidently introduced into the Earth’s ecosystem. Unusual sugars or amino acids, like non-proteinogenic isovaline and α-aminoisobutyric acid that are vanishingly rare or absent from life forms on Earth, have been found in high abundance on non-terrestrial carbonaceous meteorites. It is therefore conceivable that exo-microorganisms might contain proteins that include these rare amino acids. We therefore asked whether the mammalian immune system would be able to recognize and induce appropriate immune responses to putative proteinaceous antigens that include these rare amino acids. To address this, we synthesised peptide antigens based on a backbone of ovalbumin and introduced isovaline and α-aminoisobutyric acid residues and demonstrated that these peptides can promote naïve OT-I cell activation and proliferation, but did so less efficiently than the canonical peptides. This is relevant to the biosecurity of missions that may retrieve samples from exoplanets and moons that have conditions that may be permissive for life, suggesting that accidental contamination and exposure to exo-microorganisms with such distinct proteomes might pose an immunological challenge.

Funding

Making and breaking the cell walls of fungal pathogens.

Wellcome Trust

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MRC Centre for Medical Mycology

Medical Research Council

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MRC Centre for Medical Mycology

Medical Research Council

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ERC Advanced grant [#833247]

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Chemistry

Published in

Microorganisms

Volume

8

Issue

7

Pages

1066

Publisher

MDPI AG

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by MDPI under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

15/07/2020

Publication date

2020-07-17

Copyright date

2020

eISSN

2076-2607

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Matteo Zanda. Deposit date: 18 July 2020

Article number

1066