The immune system mounts strong CD8+ T cell responses to almost all acute virus infections. However, one virus genus - the enteroviruses - is a stark exception. These viruses can replicate to extremely high titers in vivo, and they induce CD4+ T cells and antibodies, yet these viruses almost completely avoid triggering na?ve CD8+ T cells. Herein, using the CVB3 mouse model, we shall investigate the mechanism(s) by which enteroviruses achieve this remarkable feat. Antiviral CD8+ T cell responses are initiated when na?ve CD8+ T cells are activated (or "primed") by contact with an MHC class I / epitope peptide complex on the surface of dendritic cells (DCs). Some viruses can infect DCs, in which case their proteins, being synthesized endogenously (i.e., within the DC) will enter the cell's MHC class I pathway, ultimately triggering CD8+ T cells;this process is called direct priming. However, there are at least two situations in which direct priming cannot occur. First, some viruses that infect DCs also encode proteins that very effectively inhibit MHC class I presentation, rendering the infected DC incapable of antigen presentation. Second, many viruses do not infect DCs. Nevertheless, in both of these cases, the host still mounts strong CD8+ T cell responses to most viruses. It is now known that viral proteins that have been released from infected cells can be taken up by a subset of uninfected DCs, allowing immunogenic proteins to be separated from MHC-inhibitory proteins;these DCs can present viral epitopes on MHC class I. This process is called cross-presentation and, if it results in the triggering of naive CD8+ T cells, it is termed cross-priming. This explains how the immune system can mount strong CD8+ T cell responses to almost all acute virus infections. Why can't it do so for CVB3? In Aim 1, I will investigate the possibility that CVB3 specifically inhibits the cross-priming pathway, preventing uninfected host DCs from capturing viral proteins. In addition, I have conceived of another explanation: that immunological information may be transferred not as protein, but as mRNA, and that the unique capacity of enteroviruses to evade CD8+ T cells results from the unusual coding strategy of these viruses. This mRNA transfer idea may be important beyond enteroviruses, because it also can explain the absence of CD8+ T cell responses to extracellular bacteria.
Aims 2 &3 test this new, and potentially-important, hypothesis.
Aim 1. To assess the effect of CVB3 infection on cross-presentation / cross-priming.
Aim 2. To ask if mRNA coding strategy explains how enteroviruses can almost completely evade naive CD8+ T cells, while most viruses induce strong CD8+ T cell responses.
Aim 3. To determine if mRNA regulatory sequences explain why extracellular bacteria fail to induce strong CD8+ T cell responses.
One virus family, the enteroviruses, seem to be almost invisible to CD8+ T cells, which are a vital part of our immune system. In this application, I will find out how these viruses make their invisibility cloak. The proposed experiments will not only teach us about enteroviruses, they also may reveal important, and unexpected, information about how our immune system works.
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