The four serotypes of Dengue virus (DENV) cause dengue fever (DF) and dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS) in humans. Studies suggest that DHF/DSS is an immunopathogenic disease in which T cell responses may be dysregulated. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the balance between T cell mediated pathology versus protection is crucial for developing therapies and, importantly, a safe dengue vaccine. By alternately passaging a DENV between mice and mosquito cells, we have naturally selected for strains that induce robust T cell responses in mice, and we have demonstrated a critical role for CD8+ T cells in limiting DENV infection in mice. Due to the broad specificity and antiviral role of the CD8+ T cell response to DENV2 in mice, we hypothesize that the murine and human CD8+ T cell response to DENV3 is broad, targeting most viral proteins, and these CD8+ T cells protect against DENV3 infection in the host. Specifically, we will examine the contribution of CD8+ T cells to protection versus pathogenesis using a mouse model of DENV3 infection (Aims 1 and 2), and we will define the specificity and role of human CD8+ T cell response in the host response to DENV3 infection using HLA transgenic mice and samples derived from people who have recovered from primary DENV3 infection (Aims 3 and 4). This project focuses on DENV3 because epidemiologic studies suggest that certain DENV serotypes, genotypes, and the sequence of DENV infections may be associated with DHF/DSS, and little is known about DENV3 infection as compared with DENV2, although DENV3 co-circulates with DENV2 in endemic countries, and DENV3 has been responsible for recent epidemics in South Asia and Latin America.
The current vaccine candidates that exploit antibody responses alone may be ineffective against new DENV variants and may enhance disease. This research may aid in generating DENV-specific vaccines that are broadly cross-reactive against all four serotypes, effectively clear virus, and increase protective immunity while avoiding immunopathology.
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