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.
John Phelps (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)
Andrew Fryga (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)