We show here that T cell cross-reactivity between heterologous viruses influences the immunodominance of virus-specific CD8+ T cells by two mechanisms. First, T cells specific for cross-reactive epitopes dominate acute responses to viral infections; second, within the memory pool, T cells specific for cross-reactive epitopes are maintained while those specific for non-cross-reactive epitopes are selectively lost. These findings suggest an immunological paradigm in which viral infections shape the available T cell repertoire, causing alterations in the hierarchies of both the primary and memory CD8+ T cell responses elicited by subsequent viral infections. Thus, immunodominance is a function of the host's previous exposure to unrelated pathogens, and this may have an impact on protective immunity and immunopathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy