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J Virol. 2006 Jan;80(1):270-80.

Lack of intrinsic CTLA-4 expression has minimal effect on regulation of antiviral T-cell immunity.

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Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Mail stop B140, P.O. Box 6511, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


CTLA-4 is considered one of the most potent negative regulators of T-cell activation. To circumvent experimental limitations due to fatal lymphoproliferative disease associated with genetic ablation of CTLA-4, we have used radiation chimeras reconstituted with a mixture of CTLA-4+/+ and CTLA-4-/- bone marrow that retain a normal phenotype and allow the evaluation of long-term T-cell immunity under conditions of intrinsic CTLA-4 deficiency. Following virus infection, we profiled primary, memory, and secondary CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell responses directed against eight different viral epitopes. Our data demonstrate unaltered antigen-driven proliferation, acquisition of effector functions, distribution of epitope hierarchies, T-cell receptor repertoire selection, functional avidities, and long-term memory maintenance in the absence of CTLA-4. Moreover, regulation of memory T-cell survival and homeostatic proliferation, as well as secondary responses, was equivalent in virus-specific CTLA4+/+ and CTL-A-4-/- T-cell populations. Thus, lack of CTLA-4 expression by antigen-specific T cells can be compensated for by extrinsic factors in the presence of CTLA-4 expression by other cells. These findings have implications for the physiologic, pathological, and therapeutic regulation of costimulation.

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