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Blood. 2010 Oct 28;116(17):3249-57. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-09-238832. Epub 2010 Jul 19.

Impaired Epstein-Barr virus-specific CD8+ T-cell function in X-linked lymphoproliferative disease is restricted to SLAM family-positive B-cell targets.

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School of Cancer Sciences and MRC Centre for Immune Regulation, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, United Kingdom;


X-linked lymphoproliferative disease (XLP) is a condition associated with mutations in the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM)-associated protein (SAP; SH2D1A). SAP functions as an adaptor, binding to and recruiting signaling molecules to SLAM family receptors expressed on T and natural killer cells. XLP is associated with extreme sensitivity to primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, often leading to a lethal infectious mononucleosis. To investigate EBV-specific immunity in XLP patients, we studied 5 individuals who had survived EBV infection and found CD8(+) T-cell responses numerically comparable with healthy donors. However, further investigation of in vitro-derived CD8(+) T-cell clones established from 2 of these donors showed they efficiently recognized SLAM ligand-negative target cells expressing EBV antigens, but showed impaired recognition of EBV-transformed, SLAM ligand-positive, lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). Importantly, LCL recognition was restored when interactions between the SLAM receptors CD244 and natural killer-, T-, and B-cell antigen (NTBA) and their ligands on LCLs were blocked. We propose that XLP patients' particular sensitivity to EBV, and not to other viruses, reflects at least in part EBV's strict tropism for B lymphocytes and the often inability of the CD8(+) T-cell response to contain the primary infection of SLAM ligand-expressing target cells.

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