CMV, a ubiquitous herpesvirus, elicits an extraordinarily large T cell response that is sustained or increases over time, a phenomenon termed 'memory inflation.' Remarkably, even latent, non-productive infection can drive memory inflation. Despite intense research on this phenomenon, the infected cell type(s) involved are unknown. To identify the responsible cell type(s), we designed a Cre-lox murine CMV (MCMV) system, where a spread-deficient (ΔgL) virus expresses recombinant SIINFEKL only in Cre+ host cells. We found that latent infection of endothelial cells (ECs), but not dendritic cells (DCs) or hepatocytes, was sufficient to drive CD8 T cell memory inflation. Infection of Lyve-1-Cre and Prox1-CreERT2 mice revealed that amongst EC subsets, infection of lymphatic ECs was sufficient. Genetic ablation of β2m on lymphatic ECs did not prevent inflation, suggesting another unidentified cell type can also present antigen to CD8 T cells during latency. This novel system definitively shows that antigen presentation by lymphatic ECs drives robust CD8 T cell memory inflation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology