Infection of adult thymus with murine retrovirus induces virus-specific central tolerance that prevents functional memory CD8+ T cell differentiation.
Shiki Takamura | Eiji Kajiwara | Sachiyo Tsuji-Kawahara | Tomoko Masumoto | Makoto Fujisawa | Maiko Kato | Tomomi Chikaishi | Yuri Kawasaki | Saori Kinoshita | Manami Itoi | Nobuo Sakaguchi | Masaaki Miyazawa
In chronic viral infections, persistent antigen presentation causes progressive exhaustion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells. It has become clear, however, that virus-specific naïve CD8+ T cells newly generated from the thymus can be primed with persisting antigens. In the setting of low antigen density and resolved inflammation, newly primed CD8+ T cells are preferentially recruited into the functional memory pool. Thus, continual recruitment of naïve CD8+ T cells from the thymus is important for preserving the population of functional memory CD8+ T cells in chronically infected animals. Friend virus (FV) is the pathogenic murine retrovirus that establishes chronic infection in adult mice, which is bolstered by the profound exhaustion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells induced during the early phase of infection. Here we show an additional evasion strategy in which FV disseminates efficiently into the thymus, ultimately leading to clonal deletion of thymocytes that are reactive to FV antigens. Owing to the resultant lack of virus-specific recent thymic emigrants, along with the above exhaustion of antigen-experienced peripheral CD8+ T cells, mice chronically infected with FV fail to establish a functional virus-specific CD8+ T cell pool, and are highly susceptible to challenge with tumor cells expressing FV-encoded antigen. However, FV-specific naïve CD8+ T cells generated in uninfected mice can be primed and differentiate into functional memory CD8+ T cells upon their transfer into chronically infected animals. These findings indicate that virus-induced central tolerance that develops during the chronic phase of infection accelerates the accumulation of dysfunctional memory CD8+ T cells.Show more [+] Less [-]