Evaluation of T-cell responses to novel RD1- and RD2-encoded Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene products for specific detection of human tuberculosis infection

Xiao Qing Liu, Davinder Dosanjh, Hansa Varia, Katie Ewer, Paul Cockle, Geoffrey Pasvol, Ajit Lalvani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


The tuberculin skin test for diagnosing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection suffers from antigenic cross-reactivity of purified protein derivative with BCG, resulting in poor specificity in BCG-vaccinated populations. Comparative genomics has identified several genetic regions in M. tuberculosis and M. bovis that are deleted in M. bovis BCG. Proteins encoded in these regions will form the basis of new specific T-cell-based blood tests that do not cross-react with BCG, but only two, early secretory antigen target 6 and culture filtrate protein 10, have been studied in detail in humans. We investigated four novel gene products, encoded by RD2 (Rv1989c) and RD1 (Rv3873, Rv3878, and Rv3879c), that are absent from most or all of the vaccine strains of BCG, respectively. Sixty-seven overlapping peptides were tested in ex vivo gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assays in 49 patients with culture-confirmed tuberculosis and 38 healthy BCG-vaccinated donors. Forty-five percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 31 to 57%) and 53% (95% CI, 39 to 67%) of the tuberculosis patients responded to Rv3879c and Rv3873, respectively, identifying these proteins as major M. tuberculosis T-cell antigens in humans, while 35 and 25% of patients responded to Rv3878 and Rv1989c, respectively. Of the 38 BCG-vaccinated donors, 1 (2.6%) responded to peptides from Rv3878 and Rv3879c, 3 (7.9%) responded to Rv3873, and none responded to Rv1989c. Exclusion of cross-reactive peptides encoded in conserved motifs of Rv3873, a PPE family member, increased its specificity to 97.4%. The high specificity of Rv3879c peptides and nonconserved Rv3873 sequences, together with their moderate sensitivity in tuberculosis patients, identifies these peptides as candidates for inclusion in new T-cell-based tests for M. tuberculosis infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2574-2581
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross Reactions
  • Female
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Tuberculosis
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of T-cell responses to novel RD1- and RD2-encoded Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene products for specific detection of human tuberculosis infection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this