The impact of MHC class I dose on development and maintenance of the polyclonal naive CD8+ T cell repertoire

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Naive CD8+ T cell survival in the periphery is critically dependent on tonic TCR signaling through peptide + MHC class I (MHCI) recognition; however, little is known about how natural variation in MHCI levels impacts the naive CD8+ T cell repertoire. Using mice that are hemizygous or homozygous for a single MHCI allele, we showed that despite a reduction in peripheral CD8+ T cell numbers of ~50% in MHCI hemizygous mice, MHCI levels had no notable impact on the rate of thymic generation or emigration of CD8 single-positive T cells. Moreover, the peripheral T cell repertoire in hemizygous mice showed selective retention of T cell clonotypes with a greater competitive advantage as evidenced by increased expression of CD5 and IL-7Ra. The qualitative superiority of CD8+ T cells retained in hemizygous mice was also seen during influenza A virus infection, in which epitope-specific CD8+ T cells from hemizygous mice had a higher avidity for pMHCI and increased cytokine polyfunctionality, despite a reduced response magnitude. Collectively, this study suggests that natural variation in MHCI expression levels has a notable and biologically relevant impact on the maintenance, but not generation, of the naive CD8+ T cell repertoire.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3108-3116
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020

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