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J Immunol. 1999 Oct 1;163(7):3735-45.

The induction of virus-specific CTL as a function of increasing epitope expression: responses rise steadily until excessively high levels of epitope are attained.

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Department of Microbiology, Kimmel Cancer Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


The role of epitope expression levels in CD8+ T cell priming has been controversial. Yet this parameter is of great importance in the design of rational approaches to optimize CTL responses to a variety of pathogens. In this paper we examine the influence of epitope production on CD8+ T cell priming by exploiting a system that allows a 200-fold range of cell surface epitope expression in vitro with a fixed dose of vaccinia virus. Our results demonstrate that, with the exception of a notable decline at the highest level of epitope, the magnitude of the responding CTL population generated in vivo following equivalent viral infections is essentially proportional to epitope density.

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