Interleukin-17A promotes CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity to facilitate West Nile virus clearance

Dhiraj Acharya, Penghua Wang, Amber M. Paul, Jianfeng Dai, David Gate, Jordan E. Lowery, Dobrivoje S. Stokic, A. Arturo Leis, Richard A. Flavell, Terrence Town, Erol Fikrig, Fengwei Bai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


CD8+ T cells are crucial components of immunity and play a vital role in recovery from West Nile virus (WNV) infection. Here, we identify a previously unrecognized function of interleukin-17A (IL-17A) in inducing cytotoxic-mediator gene expression and promoting CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity against WNV infection in mice. We find that IL-17A-deficient (Il17a-/-) mice are more susceptible to WNV infection and develop a higher viral burden than wild-type (WT) mice. Interestingly, the CD8+ T cells isolated from Il17a-/- mice are less cytotoxic and express lower levels of cytotoxic-mediator genes, which can be restored by supplying recombinant IL-17A in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, treatment of WNV-infected mice with recombinant IL- 17A, as late as day 6 postinfection, significantly reduces the viral burden and increases survival, suggesting a therapeutic potential for IL-17A. In conclusion, we report a novel function of IL-17A in promoting CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity, which may have broad implications in other microbial infections and cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01529-16
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • CD8 T cell
  • IL-17A
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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