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Antigen Delivered by Anthrax Lethal Toxin Induces the Development of Memory CD8⁺ T Cells That Can Be Rapidly Boosted and Display Effector Functions

Shaw, Christine A., Starnbach, Michael N.
Infection and immunity 2008 v.76 no.3 pp. 1214-1222
Bacillus anthracis, CD8-positive T-lymphocytes, Listeria monocytogenes, anthrax, cytotoxicity, epitopes, functional properties, immunity, interferon-gamma, major histocompatibility complex, mice, models, pathogens, proteins, secondary immunization, vaccination
Memory CD8⁺ T cells are essential for protective immunity against many intracellular pathogens; therefore, stimulation of this population of cells is an important goal of vaccination. We have previously shown that a detoxified derivative of Bacillus anthracis anthrax lethal toxin (LT) can deliver heterologous CD8⁺ T-cell epitopes to the major histocompatibility complex class I processing and presentation pathway of murine host cells and that immunization of mice with these LT-antigen fusion proteins leads to the induction of antigen-specific CD8⁺ T cells. In this report we extend these findings to include a detailed characterization of the phenotypic and functional properties of the T cells stimulated by the LT-based system. We found that after an initial period of expansion and contraction, antigen-specific CD8⁺ T cells differentiated into a pool of memory cells that produced gamma interferon and displayed in vivo cytotoxic activity. The transition to memory cells appeared to be quite rapid based on an analysis of the phenotypic marker CD127 and the effectiveness of a booster immunization administered early after the initial immunization. We also investigated the composition of the memory T-cell pool induced by this system and found that while one immunization induced a mixture of effector memory T cells (CD62Llow) and central memory T cells (CD62Lhigh), a second immunization preferentially elevated the effector memory T-cell frequency. Finally, we demonstrated that mice that received prime-boost immunizations of LT-antigen proteins were more protected in a Listeria monocytogenes challenge model than mice that received only one immunization.