Clonotype selection and composition of human CD8 T cells specific for persistent herpes viruses varies with differentiation but is stable over time

Emanuela M. Iancu, Patricia Corthesy, Petra Baumgaertner, Estelle Devevre, Verena Voelter, Pedro Romero, Daniel E. Speiser, Nathalie Rufer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Protection from reactivation of persistent herpes virus infection is mediated by Ag-specific CD8 T cell responses, which are highly regulated by still poorly understood mechanisms. In this study, we analyzed differentiation and clonotypic dynamics of EBV- and CMV-specific T cells from healthy adults. Although these T lymphocytes included all subsets, from early-differentiated (EM/CD28pos) to late-differentiated (EMRA/CD28neg) stages, they varied in the sizes/proportions of these subsets. In-depth clonal composition analyses revealed TCR repertoires, which were highly restricted for CMV- and relatively diverse for EBV-specific cells. Virtually all virus-specific clonotypes identified in the EMRA/CD28neg subset were also found within the pool of less differentiated "memory" cells. However, striking differences in the patterns of dominance were observed among these subsets, because some clonotypes were selected with differentiation while others were not. Late-differentiated CMV-specific clonotypes were mostly characterized by TCR with lower dependency on CD8 coreceptor interaction. Yet all clonotypes displayed similar functional avidities, suggesting a compensatory role of CD8 in the clonotypes of lower TCR avidity. Importantly, clonotype selection and composition of each virus-specific subset upon differentiation was highly preserved over time, with the presence of the same dominant clonotypes at specific differentiation stages within a period of 4 years. Remarkably, clonotypic distribution was stable not only in late-differentiated but also in less-differentiated T cell subsets. Thus, T cell clonotypes segregate with differentiation, but the clonal composition once established is kept constant for at least several years. These findings reveal novel features of the highly sophisticated control of steady state protective T cell activity in healthy adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-331
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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