Minimal bystander activation of CD8 T cells during the virus-induced polyclonal T cell response

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Acute infections with viruses such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) are associated with a massive polyclonal T cell response, but the specificities of only a small percentage of these activated T cells are known. To determine if bystander stimulation of T cells not specific to the virus plays a role in this T cell response, we examined two different systems, HY-specific T cell receptor (TCR)-transgenic mice, which have a restricted TCR repertoire, and LCMV-carrier mice, which are tolerant to LCMV. LCMV infection of HY-transgenic C57BL/6 mice induced antiviral CTLs that lysed target cells coated with two of the three immunodominant epitopes previously defined for LCMV (glycoprotein 33 and nucleoprotein 397). Although LCMV-induced cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) from C57BL/6 mice could lyse uninfected H-2(k) and H-2(d) allogeneic targets, LCMV-induced CTLs from HY mice lysed only the H-2(k)-expressing cells. The HY mice generated both anti-H-2(k) and anti-H-2(d) CTL in mixed leukocyte reactions, providing evidence that the generation of allospecific CTLs during acute LCMV infection is antigen specific. During the LCMV infection there was blastogenesis of the CD8+ T cell population, but the HY-specific T cells (as determined by expression of the TCR-alpha chain) remained small in size. To examine the potential for bystander stimulation under conditions of a very strong CTL response, T cell chimeras were made between normal and HY mice. Even in the context of a normal virus-induced CTL response, no stimulation of HY-specific T cells was observed, and HY-specific cells were diluted in number by day 9 after infection. In LCMV-carrier mice in which donor and host T cells could be distinguished by Thy1 allotypic markers, adoptive transfer of LCMV-immune T cells into LCMV-carrier mice, whose T cells were tolerant to LCMV, resulted in activation and proliferation of donor CD8 cells, but little or no activation of host CD8 cells. These results support the hypothesis that the massive polyclonal CTL response to LCMV infection is virus-specific and that bystander activation of non-virus-specific T cells is not a significant component of this response.


J Exp Med. 1997 May 5;185(9):1629-39.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of experimental medicine

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