Feline immunodeficiency virus (fiv)-specific cytotoxic t-lymphocytes from chronically infected cats are induced in-vitro by retroviral vector-transduced feline t-cells expressing the fiv capsid protein
We have previously reported the presence of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)-specific, major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) in experimentally FIV-infected cats. However, the fine specificity of the CTL and the role of individual FIV proteins in inducing FIV-specific CTL responses remain unknown. In this study, we examined the in vitro induction and activity of FIV p24 capsid-specific CTL obtained from cats that had been experimentally infected with FIV Petaluma for 30 to 56 months. An amphotropic murine retroviral vector was used to generate transgenic primary feline T lymphoblasts that expressed the FIV capsid protein. When the autologous capsid-transduced T cells were used in vitro to stimulate CTL responses from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of chronically infected cats, MHC-restricted lysis of virus-infected target cells was observed. The majority of the CTL expressed CD8, and depletion of this population, but not CD4+ cells, effectively diminished the CTL activity. When the autologous capsid-transduced T cells were used as target cells, lysis by capsid-induced effectors was not observed. Analysis of capsid-transduced T cell clones revealed a variable and low level of capsid expression among the clones. This study demonstrates the potential for using retroviral vectors as a means of inducing CTL effector cells that will specifically kill lentivirus-infected cells during lentiviral infection.