Although immunity against intracellular pathogens is primarily provided by CD8 T lymphocytes that recognize pathogen-derived peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class Ia molecules, MHC class Ib - restricted CD8 T cells have been implicated in antiviral immunity. Using mouse polyoma virus (PyV), we found that MHC class Ia - deficient (Kb-/-D b-/-) mice efficiently control this persistently infecting mouse pathogen. CD8 T cell depletion mitigates clearance of PyV in K b-/-Db-/- mice. We identified the ligand for PyV-specif c CD8 T cells in Kb-/-Db-/- mice as a nonamer peptide from the VP2 capsid protein presented by Q9, a member of the (β2 microglobulin - associated Qa-2 family. Using Q9-VP2 tetramers, we monitored delayed but progressive expansion of these antigen-specif c CD8αβ T cells in Kb-/-Db-/- mice. Importantly, we demonstrate that Q9-VP2 - specif c CD8 T cells more effectively clear wild-type PyV than a VP2 epitopenull mutant PyV. Finally, we show that wild-type mice also generate Q9-restricted VP2 epitope - specif c CD8 T cells to PyV infection. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence for a defined MHC class Ib - restricted antiviral CD8 T cell response that contributes to host defense. This study motivates efforts to uncover MHC class Ib - restricted CD8 T cell responses in other viral infections, and given the limited polymorphism of MHC class Ib molecules, it raises the possibility of developing peptide-based viral vaccines having broad coverage across MHC haplotypes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy