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By Calum Forrest, Andrew D. Hislop, Alan B Rickinson, Jianmin Zuo

Posted 21 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/327312 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007110)

Human herpesviruses are antigenically rich agents that induce strong CD8+T cell responses in primary infection yet persist for life, continually challenging T cell memory through recurrent lytic replication and potentially influencing the spectrum of antigen-specific responses. Here we describe the first lytic proteome-wide analysis of CD8+ T cell responses to the Epstein-Barr gamma1-herpesvirus (EBV), and the first such proteome-wide analysis of primary versus memory CD8 responses to any human herpesvirus. Primary effector preparations were generated directly from activated CD8+ T cells in the blood of infectious mononucleosis (IM) patients by in vitro mitogenic expansion. For memory preparations, EBV-specific cells in the blood of long-term virus carriers were first re-stimulated in vitro by autologous dendritic cells loaded with a lysate of lytically-infected cells, then expanded as for IM cells. Preparations from 7 donors of each type were screened against each of 70 EBV lytic cycle proteins in combination with the donor's individual HLA class I alleles. Multiple reactivities against immediate early (IE), early (E) and late (L) lytic cycle proteins, including many hitherto unrecognised targets, were detected in both contexts. Interestingly however, the two donor cohorts showed a different balance between IE, E and L reactivities. Primary responses targeted IE and a small group of E proteins preferentially, seemingly in line with their better presentation on the infected cell surface before later-expressed viral evasins take full hold. By contrast, target choice equilibrates in virus carriage with responses to key IE and E antigens still present but with responses to a select subset of L proteins now often prominent. We infer that, for EBV at least, long-term virus carriage with its low level virus replication and lytic antigen release is associated with a re-shaping of the virus-specific response.

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