Establishing functional tissue-resident memory (TRM) cells at sites of infection is a newfound objective of T cell vaccine design. To directly assess the impact of antigen stimulation strength on memory CD8 T cell formation and function during a persistent viral infection, we created a library of mouse polyomavirus (MuPyV) variants with substitutions in a subdominant CD8 T cell epitope that exhibit a broad range of efficiency in stimulating TCR transgenic CD8 T cells. By altering a subdominant epitope in a nonstructural viral protein and monitoring memory differentiation of donor monoclonal CD8 T cells in immunocompetent mice, we circumvented potentially confounding changes in viral infection levels, virus-associated inflammation, size of the immunodominant virus-specific CD8 T cell response, and shifts in TCR affinity that may accompany temporal recruitment of endogenous polyclonal cells. Using this strategy, we found that antigen stimulation strength was inversely associated with the function of memory CD8 T cells during a persistent viral infection. We further show that CD8 TRMcells recruited to the brain following systemic infection with viruses expressing epitopes with suboptimal stimulation strength respond more efficiently to challenge CNS infection with virus expressing cognate antigen. These data demonstrate that the strength of antigenic stimulation during recruitment of CD8 T cells influences the functional integrity of TRMcells in a persistent viral infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology