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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Sep;7(9):e1002268. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002268. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Unconventional repertoire profile is imprinted during acute chikungunya infection for natural killer cells polarization toward cytotoxicity.

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INSERM UMR-S 945, Immunité et Infection, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a worldwide emerging pathogen. In humans it causes a syndrome characterized by high fever, polyarthritis, and in some cases lethal encephalitis. Growing evidence indicates that the innate immune response plays a role in controlling CHIKV infection. We show here that CHIKV induces major but transient modifications in NK-cell phenotype and function soon after the onset of acute infection. We report a transient clonal expansion of NK cells that coexpress CD94/NKG2C and inhibitory receptors for HLA-C1 alleles and are correlated with the viral load. Functional tests reveal cytolytic capacity driven by NK cells in the absence of exogenous signals and severely impaired IFN-γ production. Collectively these data provide insight into the role of this unique subset of NK cells in controlling CHIKV infection by subset-specific expansion in response to acute infection, followed by a contraction phase after viral clearance.

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