Competition between T cells maintains clonal dominance during memory inflation induced by MCMV

Holly Turula, Corinne J. Smith, Finn Grey, Katherine A. Zurbach, Christopher M. Snyder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Both human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) establish persistent infections that induce the accumulation of virus-specific T cells over time in a process called memory inflation. It has been proposed that T cells expressing T-cell receptors (TCRs) with high affinity for HCMV-derived peptides are preferentially selected after acute HCMV infection. To test this in the murine model, small numbers of OT-I transgenic T cells, which express a TCR with high affinity for the SIINFEKL peptide, were transferred into congenic mice and recipients were challenged with recombinant MCMV expressing SIINFEKL. OT-I T cells were selectively enriched during the first 3 weeks of infection. Similarly, in the absence of OT-I T cells, the functional avidity of SIINFEKL-specific T cells increased from early to late times postinfection. However, even when exceedingly small numbers of OT-I T cells were transferred, their inflation limited the inflation of host-derived T cells specific for SIINFEKL. Importantly, subtle minor histocompatibility differences led to late rejection of the transferred OT-I T cells in some mice, which allowed host-derived T cells to inflate substantially. Thus, T cells with a high functional avidity are selected shortly after MCMV infection and continuously sustain their clonal dominance in a competitive manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1263
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Memory cells
  • CD8+T cells
  • Immune responses


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