Assessment of the specificity of cytotoxic T lymphocytes for the nucleoprotein of Pichinde virus using recombinant vaccinia viruses
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Pichinde virus (PV) infection of mice results in induction of a strong H-2 restricted, virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response and rapid clearance of the virus. To define the specificities of CTL induced by PV infection, we constructed vaccinia virus recombinants containing cloned cDNAs corresponding to full-length (VVNP) and a truncated form (VVNP 51-561) of the nucleoprotein (NP) gene of PV. Radioimmunoprecipitation analysis of infected cell lysates indicated that VVNP expressed a PV-specific product identical in size to that of authentic NP, while vaccinia virus recombinants containing truncated NP produced a polypeptide consistent with the synthesis of amino acids 51-561 of Pichinde virus NP. Interestingly, cells infected with VVNP synthesized easily detectable, but much lower levels of nucleoprotein relative to both PV and VVNP51-561. Primary virus-specific CTL induced in three different strains of inbred mice following intravenous infection with PV were able to lyse syngeneic target cells infected with PV but did not markedly lyse syngeneic targets expressing full-length or truncated NP following recombinant vaccinia virus infection. Similarly, secondary anti-PV specific CTL generated following in vitro restimulation by PV or selectively restimulated with vaccinia recombinants did not significantly lyse target cells expressing NP. Further, infection of mice with VVNP and VVNP51-561 did not induce CTLs specific for PV and did not prime mice for the generation of memory anti-PV CTL in vivo. These results suggest that PV gene products other than NP, such as the GPC or L protein, contain the major target epitope(s) recognized by PV-specific CTL.
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