Antigenic variation is a viral strategy exploited to promote survival in the face of the host immune response and represents a major challenge for efficient vaccine development. Influenza viruses are pathogens with high transmissibility and mutation rates, enabling viral escape from immunity induced by prior infection or vaccination. Intense selection from neutralizing antibody drives antigenic changes in the surface glycoproteins, resulting in emergence of new strains able to reinfect hosts immune to previously circulating viruses. CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) also provide protective immunity from influenza virus infection and may contribute to the antigenic evolution of influenza viruses. Utilizing mice transgenic for an influenza virus NP366-374 peptide-specific T-cell receptor, we demonstrated that the respiratory tract is a suitable site for generation of escape variants of influenza virus selected by CTL in vivo. In this report the contributions of the perforin and Fas pathways utilized by influenza virus-specific CTLs in viral clearance and selection of CTL escape variants have been evaluated. While transgenic CTLs deficient in either perforin- or Fas-mediated pathways are efficient in initial pulmonary viral control, variant virus emergence was observed in all the mice studied, although the spectrum of viral CTL escape variants selected varied profoundly. Thus, a less-restricted repertoire of escape variants was observed in mice with an intact perforin cytotoxic pathway compared with a limited variant diversity in perforin pathway-deficient mice, although maximal variant diversity was observed in mice having both Fas and perforin pathways intact. We conclude that selection of viral CTL escape variants reflects coordinate action between the tightly controlled perforin/granzyme pathway and the more promiscuous Fas/FasL pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science