CMV infection induces robust CD4+ T cell responses in immunocompetent hosts that orchestrate immune control of viral replication, dissemination, and disease. In this study, we characterized the clonotypic composition of CD4+ T cell populations specific for rhesus CMV (RhCMV) in chronically infected adult rhesus macaques (RM) and in juvenile RM undergoing primary RhCMV infection and subsequent secondary challenge with RhCMV. In adult RM with established chronic infection, RhCMV-specific CD4 + T cell populations exhibited stable, pauciclonal structures with skewed hierarchies dominated by two or three clonotypes. During primary infection, in contrast, the initial RhCMV-specific CD4+ T cell populations were highly polyclonal and progressive evolution to the chronic pattern manifest in adults occurred over the ensuing 2-3 years. Clear patterns of clonal succession were observed during this maturation process, such that clonotypes present in the acute phase were largely replaced over time. However, rechallenge with RhCMV expanded virus-specific CD4+ T cell clonotypes identified solely during acute infection. These findings indicate that, during persistent viral infection, substantial selection pressures and ongoing clonotype recruitment shape the specific CD4+ T cell repertoire and that rapidly exhausted or superseded clonotypes often remain within the memory T cell pool.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy