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Reddehase, Matthias J.; Mutter, Wolfgang; Münch, Konrad; Bühring, Hans-Jörg and Koszinowski, Ulrich H. (1987): CD8-positive T lymphocytes specific for murine cytomegalovirus immediate-early antigens mediate protective immunity. In: Journal of Virology, Vol. 61: pp. 3102-3108 [PDF, 1MB]

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We have shown in a murine model system for acute, lethal cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in the immunocompromised natural host that control of virus multiplication in tissues, protection from virus-caused tissue destruction, and survival are mediated by virus-specific CD8+ CD4-T lymphocytes. Protection from a lethal course of disease did not result in a rapid establishment of virus latency, but led to a long-lasting, persistent state of infection. The CD8- CD4+ subset of T lymphocytes was not effective by itself in controlling murine CMV (MCMV) multiplication in tissue or essential for the protective function of the CD8+ CD4- effector cells. The antiviral efficacy of the purified CD8+ CD4- subset was not impaired by preincubation with fibroblasts that presented viral structural antigens, but was significantly reduced after depletion of effector cells specific for the nonstructural immediate-early antigens of MCMV, which are specified by the first among a multitude of viral genes expressed during MCMV replication in permissive cells. Thus, MCMV disease provides the first example of a role for nonstructural herpesvirus immediate-early antigens in protective immunity.

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