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Cell. 1998 Feb 20;92(4):535-45.

Compartmentalization of bacterial antigens: differential effects on priming of CD8 T cells and protective immunity.

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Emory Vaccine Center, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Bacterial pathogens synthesize numerous proteins that are either secreted or localized within bacterial cells. To address the impact of antigen compartmentalization on T cell immunity, we constructed recombinant Listeria monocytogenes that express a model CD8T cell epitope as a secreted or nonsecreted fusion protein. Both forms of the antigen, either secreted into the host cell cytoplasm or retained within bacterial cells, efficiently prime CD8 T cell responses. However, epitope-specific CD8 T cells confer protection only against bacteria secreting the antigen but not against the bacteria expressing the nonsecreted form of the same antigen. This dichotomy as a result of antigen compartmentalization suggests that bacterial antigens are presented by multiple MHC class I pathways to prime CD8 T cells, but only the endogenous pathway provides target antigens for CD8 T cell-mediated protective immunity.

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