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J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(23):12578-84. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05334-11. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Gamma interferon and perforin control the strength, but not the hierarchy, of immunodominance of an antiviral CD8+ T cell response.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, Program in Immune Cell Development and Host Defense, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


The two major antiviral effector mechanisms of CD8(+) T cells are thought to be perforin (Prf)-mediated cell lysis and gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-mediated induction of an antiviral state. By affecting the expression of proteins involved in antigen presentation, IFN-γ is also thought to shape the magnitude and specificity of the CD8(+) T cell response. Here we studied the roles of Prf and IFN-γ in shaping the effector and memory CD8(+) T cell responses to vaccinia virus (VACV). IFN-γ deficiency resulted in increased numbers of anti-VACV effector and memory CD8(+) T cells, which were partly dependent on increased virus loads. On the other hand, Prf-deficient mice showed an increase in the number of VACV-specific CD8(+) T cells only in the memory phase. Treatment of the mice with the antiviral drug cidofovir reduced the numbers of effector and memory cells closer to wild-type levels in IFN-γ-deficient mice and reduced the numbers of memory CD8(+) T cells to wild-type levels in Prf-deficient mice. These data suggest that virus loads are the main reason for the increased strength of the CD8 response in IFN-γ- and Prf-deficient mice. Neither Prf deficiency nor IFN-γ deficiency had an effect on the immunodominance hierarchy of five K(b)-restricted CD8(+) T cell determinants either during acute infection or after recovery. Thus, our work shows that CD8(+) T cell immunodominance during VACV infection is not affected by the effects of IFN-γ on the antigen presentation machinery.

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