Virus specificity of cytotoxic T lymphocytes generated during acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection: role of the H-2 region in determining cross-reactivity for different lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus strains
We have compared the relatedness of five different strains of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) as assessed by LCMV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Several different mouse strains were injected with each of the five LCMV strains, and the cross-reactivity of virus-specific CTL generated during the acute infection was tested by killing on a panel of target cells infected with the various LCMV strains. We found that the cross-reactivity pattern of LCMV-specific CTL generated in mice of H-2d haplotype (BALB/c WEHI and DBA/2) was strikingly different from that in mice of H-2b haplotype (C57BL/6 and C3H.Sw/Sn), suggesting that the fine specificity of LCMV-specific CTL is a function of the H-2 region. The characteristic cross-reactivity patterns were also observed in (C57BL/6 X DBA/2)F1 mice, demonstrating that the repertoire of the H-2b- and H-2d-restricted LCMV-specific CTL is not changed as a result of complementation by gene products of the other major histocompatibility haplotype. Studies with congenic BALB.B10 and (BALB.B10 X BALB/c)F1 mice firmly established that the characteristic cross-reactivity patterns of LCMV-specific CTL map to the H-2 region and are not influenced by background genes outside the major histocompatibility locus. These results suggest that LCMV determinants seen in the context of H-2d-restricting elements are different from those seen in the context of H-2b-restricting elements. Moreover, our studies show that CTL can be used as probes for dissecting differences among various LCMV strains, but the degree of relatedness between the different LCMV strains is not absolute when measured by CTL recognition. Since the H-2 region regulates the fine specificity of CTL generated during LCMV infection in its natural host, the degree of cross-protective immunity developed during a viral infection apparently depends on the major histocompatibility haplotype. The importance of these findings lies in understanding susceptibility or resistance of various host populations to viral infections and in designing vaccination programs to provide immunity.