GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology



First Thesis Advisor

Sharone Green, M.D.


Encephalitis Virus, Japanese, West Nile virus, Encephalitis, West Nile Fever, Cross Protection, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and West Nile virus (WNV) are closely related Flaviviruses that are important arthropod-borne human pathogens. Both of these viruses can cause encephalitis with significant morbidity and mortality after infection. Flaviviruses co-circulate in many areas of the world, which raises the risk for sequential infection between heterologous viruses. Sequential infection between dengue virus serotypes can lead to cross-protection, but in some cases, it leads to a severe outcome, dengue hemorrhagic fever. Previous work in hamsters and non-human primates demonstrated that prior JEV immunity protects against a lethal WNV infection. However, the ability of prior WNV immunity to protect against a lethal JEV infection has been inconclusive. WNV-immune hamsters were fully protected from JEV viremia, but in non-human primates, prior WNV-immunity only reduced disease severity, with symptoms of encephalitis still observed. These differences in cross-protection led to further investigation on the directionality as well as the underlying mechanisms for this phenomenon.

Previous work in our lab found that JEV-immune C57BL/6J (B6) mice were fully protected against a lethal WNV infection, and JEV-immune CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were required for this cross-protection. In other mouse models, memory cross-reactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses may induce protection or immunopathology upon secondary heterologous viral challenge. We hypothesize that JEV/WNV cross-reactive CD4+and CD8+ T cells preferentially expand upon 2o infection and contribute to cross-protection. To elucidate the potential role of T cells in sequential flavivirus infection, we identified and characterized cross-reactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses between JEV and WNV. A previously reported WNV NS4b CD8+ T cell epitope and its JEV variant elicited CD8+ T cell responses in both JEV- and WNV-infected mice. Despite similarities in viral burden for pathogenic JEV and WNV viruses, CD8+ T cells from pathogenic JEV-infected mice exhibited functional and phenotypic profiles similar to those seen for the attenuated JEV strain. We believe the differences in the CD8+ T cell responses during primary JEV and WNV infection are due at least in part to the low levels of peripheral replication seen in JEV-infected mice compared to WNV-infected mice.

We also found that WNV-immune B6 mice were protected against a lethal JEV infection. Cross-reactive CD8+ T cells in JEV-immune mice rapidly expanded after WNV infection. Even though WNV-immune mice had higher frequencies of memory CD8+ T cells, cross-reactive CD8+ T cells did not expand after secondary JEV infection. Neutralizing antibodies to JEV were detected in WNV-immune mice; however, cross-reactive CD8+ T cells did not expand even in the absence of these cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies. We did not detect any differences in the CD8+ T cell repertoires between JEV- and WNV-infected mice nor were WNV-immune CD8+ T cells functionally exhausted. In fact, proliferation of memory CD8+ T cells did not correlate with the ability of WNV-immune CD8+ T cells to restrict recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing the cross-reactive epitope or lyse peptide-coated targets. These data suggest that the higher frequency of memory CD8+ T cells and cross-reactive antibodies in WNV-immune mice are better able to prevent neuroinvasion following 2o JEV infection.



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