Strong selection of virus-specific cytotoxic CD4+ T-cell clones during primary human cytomegalovirus infection

Ester M. M. van Leeuwen, Ester B. M. Remmerswaal, Mirjam H. M. Heemskerk, Ineke J. M. ten Berge, Rene A. W. van Lier

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74 Citations (Scopus)


To obtain insight into human CD4+ T cell differentiation and selection in vivo, we longitudinally studied cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific CD4+ T cells after primary infection. Early in infection, CMV-specific CD4+ T cells have the appearance of interferon gamma (IFNgamma)-producing T-helper 1 (TH1) type cells, whereas during latency a large population of CMV-specific CD4+ CD28- T cells emerges with immediate cytotoxic capacity. We demonstrate that CD4+ CD28- T cells could lyse CMV antigen-expressing target cells in a class II-dependent manner. To clarify the clonal relationship between early and late CMV-specific CD4+ T cells, we determined their Vbeta usage and CDR3 sequences. The T-cell receptor beta (TCRbeta) diversity in the early CMV-specific CD4+ T-cell population was high in contrast to the use of a very restricted set of TCRbeta sequences in latent infection. T-cell clones found in the late CMV-specific CD4+ T-cell population could not be retrieved from the early CD4+ T-cell population, or were present only at a low frequency. The observation that dominant CMV-specific CD4+ clones during latency were only poorly represented in the acute phase suggests that after the initial control of the virus strong selection and/or priming of novel clones takes place in persistent infections in humans
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3121-3127
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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