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J Immunol. 2007 Jun 1;178(11):7054-63.

Plasmodium berghei-infected primary hepatocytes process and present the circumsporozoite protein to specific CD8+ T cells in vitro.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland.


A substantial and protective response against malaria liver stages is directed against the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) and involves induction of CD8(+) T cells and production of IFN-gamma. CSP-derived peptides have been shown to be presented on the surface of infected hepatocytes in the context of MHC class I molecules. However, little is known about how the CSP and other sporozoite Ags are processed and presented to CD8(+) T cells. We investigated how primary hepatocytes from BALB/c mice process the CSP of Plasmodium berghei after live sporozoite infection and present CSP-derived peptides to specific H-2K(d)-restricted CD8(+) T cells in vitro. Using both wild-type and spect(-/-) P. berghei sporozoites, we show that both infected and traversed primary hepatocytes process and present the CSP. The processing and presentation pathway was found to involve the proteasome, Ag transport through a postendoplasmic reticulum compartment, and aspartic proteases. Thus, it can be hypothesized that infected hepatocytes can contribute in vivo to the elicitation and expansion of a T cell response.

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