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J Immunol. 1999 Jan 15;162(2):980-8.

Perforin-deficient CD8+ T cells: in vivo priming and antigen-specific immunity against Listeria monocytogenes.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


CD8+ T cells require perforin to mediate immunity against some, but not all, intracellular pathogens. Previous studies with H-2b MHC perforin gene knockout (PO) mice revealed both perforin-dependent and perforin-independent pathways of CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity to Listeria monocytogenes (LM). In this study, we address two previously unresolved issues regarding the requirement for perforin in antilisterial immunity: 1) Is CD8+ T cell-mediated, perforin-independent immunity specific for a single Ag or generalizable to multiple Ags? 2) Is there a deficiency in the priming of the CD8+ T cell compartment of PO mice following an immunizing challenge with LM? We used H-2d MHC PO mice to generate CD8+ T cell lines individually specific for three known Ags expressed by a recombinant strain of virulent LM. Adoptive transfer experiments into BALB/c host mice revealed that immunity can be mediated by PO CD8+ T cells specific for all Ags examined, indicating that perforin-independent immunity is not limited to CD8+ T cells that recognize listeriolysin O. Analysis of epitope-specific CD8+ T cell expansion by MHC class I tetramer staining and ELISPOT revealed no deficiency in either the primary or secondary response to LM infection in PO mice. These results demonstrate that the perforin-independent pathway of antilisterial resistance mediated by CD8+ T cells is generalizable to multiple epitopes. Furthermore, the results show that reduced antilisterial resistance observed with polyclonal PO CD8+ T cells is a consequence of a deficiency in effector function and not a result of suboptimal CD8+ T cell priming.

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