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J Immunol. 2011 Dec 1;187(11):5745-55. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1102105. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Influence of galectin-9/Tim-3 interaction on herpes simplex virus-1 latency.

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Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


After HSV-1 infection, CD8(+) T cells accumulate in the trigeminal ganglion (TG) and participate in the maintenance of latency. However, the mechanisms underlying intermittent virus reactivation are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate the role of an inhibitory interaction between T cell Ig and mucin domain-containing molecule 3 (Tim-3)-expressing CD8(+) T cells and galectin 9 (Gal-9) that could influence HSV-1 latency and reactivation. Accordingly, we show that most K(b)-gB tetramer-specific CD8(+) T cells in the TG of HSV-1-infected mice express Tim-3, a molecule that delivers negative signals to CD8(+) T cells upon engagement of its ligand Gal-9. Gal-9 was also upregulated in the TG when replicating virus was present as well during latency. This could set the stage for Gal-9/Tim-3 interaction, and this inhibitory interaction was responsible for reduced CD8(+) T cell effector function in wild-type mice. Additionally, TG cell cultures exposed to recombinant Gal-9 in the latent phase caused apoptosis of most CD8(+) T cells. Furthermore, Gal-9 knockout TG cultures showed delayed and reduced viral reactivation as compared with wild-type cultures, demonstrating the greater efficiency of CD8(+) T cells to inhibit virus reactivation in the absence of Gal-9. Moreover, the addition of recombinant Gal-9 to ex vivo TG cultures induced enhanced viral reactivation compared with untreated controls. Our results demonstrate that the host homeostatic mechanism mediated by Gal-9/Tim-3 interaction on CD8(+) T cells can influence the outcome of HSV-1 latent infection, and manipulating Gal-9 signals might represent therapeutic means to inhibit HSV-1 reactivation from latency.

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