CD8+ T cell responses to viral infection are characterized by the emergence of dominant and subdominant CTL populations. The immunodominance hierarchies of these populations are highly reproducible for any given spectrum of virus-induced peptide-MHCI complexes and are likely determined by multiple factors. Recent studies demonstrate a direct correlation between naive epitope-specific CD8+ T cell precursor (CTLp) frequency and the magnitude of the response after antigen challenge. Thus, the number of available precursors in the naive pool has emerged as a key predictor of immunodominance. In contrast to this, we report here no consistent relationship between CTLp frequency and the subsequent magnitude of the immune response for 4 influenza virus–derived epitopes following intranasal infection of mice with influenza A virus. Rather, the characteristic, antigen-driven T cell immunodominance hierarchy was determined by the extent of recruitment from the available pool of epitope-specific precursors and the duration of their continued expansion over the course of the infection. These findings suggest possibilities for enhancing protective immune memory by maximizing both the size and diversity of typically subdominant T cell responses through rational vaccine design.
Nicole L. La Gruta, William T. Rothwell, Tania Cukalac, Natasha G. Swan, Sophie A. Valkenburg, Katherine Kedzierska, Paul G. Thomas, Peter C. Doherty, Stephen J. Turner
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.