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J Virol. 1997 Jul;71(7):5110-4.

Uncovering subdominant cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses in lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-infected BALB/c mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, 90024, USA.


The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte response against lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) in BALB/c mice is predominantly directed against a single, Ld-restricted epitope in the viral nucleoprotein (residues 118 to 126). To investigate whether any Kd/Dd-restricted responses were activated but did not expand during the primary response, we used a BALB/c mutant, BALB/c-H-2dm2, which does not express the Ld molecule. Splenocytes from LCMV-infected BALB/c mice were transferred into irradiated BALB/c-H-2dm2 mice and rechallenged with LCMV. Thus, they were exposed to an antigenic stimulus without the involvement of the immunodominant Ld-restricted epitope. In this adoptive transfer model, the donor splenocytes protected the recipient mice against chronic LCMV infection by mounting a potent Kd- and/or Dd-restricted secondary antiviral response. Analysis of a panel of Kd binding LCMV peptides revealed that residues 283 to 291 from the viral glycoprotein (GP(283-291)) comprise a major new epitope in the adoptive transfer model. Because the donor splenocytes were first activated during the primary infection in BALB/c mice, the GP(283-291) epitope is a subdominant epitope in BALB/c mice that becomes dominant after rechallenge in BALB/c-H-2dm2 mice. This study makes two points. First, it shows that subdominant CTL responses can be protective, and second, it provides a general experimental approach for uncovering subdominant CTL responses in vivo. This strategy can be used to identify subdominant T-cell responses in other systems.

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