GSBS Dissertations and Theses



Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology



First Thesis Advisor

Leslie Berg


LCMV, Memory, Effector, CD8, T Cell, Runx2, IRF4, Viral Infection


Transcriptional regulation of CD8+ T cell differentiation during acute and chronic viral infections is an intricate web made up of many of transcription factors. While several transcription factors have been elucidated in this process, there are still many more that remain elusive. In this work, we look into the role of two transcription factors, IRF4 and Runx2, and their role in CD8+ T cell terminal effector cells and memory precursor cells during acute LCMV-Armstrong infection. We found that IRF4 expression was regulated by TCR signal strength during infection, and that IRF4 expression levels directly correlated with the magnitude of the effector cell response. IRF4 was also shown to regulate T-bet and Eomes, two transcription factors critical for CD8+ T cell differentiation into effector and memory cells. From these results, we were interested in the potential role of IRF4 during chronic LCMV-clone 13 infection, where ratios of T-bet and Eomes are critical for viral clearance. We found that haplodeficiency of IRF4 in the T cell compartment lead to an increase in the ratio of Eomes to T-bet in T cells, which in turn affected the proportion of Eomeshi versus T-bethi cells and resulted in a loss in ability to clear viral infection. Irf4+/-Eomes+/- compound heterozygous mice were generated to test if decreasing Eomes expression would rescue the Irf4+/- phenotype. Irf4+/-Eomes+/- mice were phenotypically similar to WT mice in terms of Eomes to T-bet ratios, and were able to clear viral infection, demonstrating a critical role of IRF4 in regulating T-bet and Eomes during chronic viral infection. Next we looked into the role of Runx2 during acute LCMV-Armstrong infection and found that Runx2-deficient pathogen-specific CD8+ T cells had a defect in the total number of memory precursor cells compared to WT controls. We further showed that Runx2 was inversely correlated with TCR signal strength, and that Runx2 expression was repressed by IRF4. From these work, we have introduced two more transcription factors that are critical for CD8+ T cells differentiation during acute and chronic viral infection. Given the sheer number of transcription factors known to regulate these processes, having a full understanding of the transcriptional network will allow us to find the best targets for therapeutic intervention for treatments ranging from vaccine development and autoimmunity to cancer immunotherapy and treatment of chronic viral infections.



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