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J Immunol. 2000 Dec 1;165(11):6123-32.

In vivo cross-presentation of a soluble protein antigen: kinetics, distribution, and generation of effector CTL recognizing dominant and subdominant epitopes.

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Department of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia.


Cross-presentation of exogenous Ags via the MHC class I pathway is now recognized for its role in self-tolerance, tumor immunity, and vaccine development. However, little is known about the in vivo distribution and kinetics of cross-presented protein Ags, nor the subsequent development of CTL effector responses to dominant or subdominant epitopes. We examined the location and duration of cross-presented Ag by using 5,6-carboxy-succinimidyl-fluorescein ester-labeled T cells from class I-restricted Ag-specific TCR mice. Comparisons of results from an in vitro (51)Cr release CTL assay with an in vivo CTL assay provided physiologically relevant insights into the functional capacities of CTL specific for epitopes with differing affinities. These data demonstrate that efficient cross-presentation of a dominant class I-restricted Ag is dose related and remains largely localized, but not limited to the draining lymph nodes for up to 3 wk following a single injection of soluble protein. Within this period, dominant peptide-specific CTL are fully functional in vivo throughout the secondary lymphoid system. However, no in vivo responses are seen to a subdominant or cryptic epitope. Prolonging Ag cross-presentation via use of IFA promoted persisting in vivo dominant epitope-specific CTL activity and revealed dose-responsive precursor CTL to the subdominant, but not to a cryptic epitope. Analysis of functional in vivo CTL responses demonstrated that, in the presence of strong ongoing responses to the dominant peptide, lytic activity of CTL directed at weaker epitopes is undetectable.

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