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J Immunol. 2000 Nov 1;165(9):4964-9.

Emergence of CD8+ T cells expressing NK cell receptors in influenza A virus-infected mice.

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Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Both innate and adaptive immune responses play an important role in the recovery of the host from viral infections. In the present report, a subset of cells coexpressing CD8 and NKR-P1C (NK1.1) was found in the lungs of mice infected with influenza A virus. These cells were detected at low numbers in the lungs of uninfected mice, but represented up to 10% of the total CD8(+) T cell population at day 10 postinfection. Almost all of the CD8(+)NK1.1(+) cells were CD8alphabeta(+)CD3(+)TCRalphabeta(+) and a proportion of these cells also expressed the NK cell-associated Ly49 receptors. Interestingly, up to 30% of these cells were virus-specific T cells as determined by MHC class I tetramer staining and by intracellular staining of IFN-gamma after viral peptide stimulation. Moreover, these cells were distinct from conventional NKT cells as they were also found at increased numbers in influenza-infected CD1(-/-) mice. These results demonstrate that a significant proportion of CD8(+) T cells acquire NK1.1 and other NK cell-associated molecules, and suggests that these receptors may possibly regulate CD8(+) T cell effector functions during viral infection.

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