Physiological induction of regulatory Qa-1-restricted CD8+ T cells triggered by endogenous CD4+ T cell responses

Aditi Varthaman, Marc Clement, Jamila Khallou-Laschet, Giulia Fornasa, Anh Thu Gaston, Michael Dussiot, Giuseppina Caligiuri, Harvey Cantor, Srinivas Kaveri, Antonino Nicoletti

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T cell-dependent autoimmune diseases are characterized by the expansion of T cell clones that recognize immunodominant epitopes on the target antigen. As a consequence, for a given autoimmune disorder, pathogenic T cell clones express T cell receptors with a limited number of variable regions that define antigenic specificity. Qa-1, a MHC class I-like molecule, presents peptides from the variable region of TCRs to Qa-1-restricted CD8+ T cells. The induction of Vß-specific CD8+ T cells has been harnessed in an immunotherapeutic strategy known as the "T cell vaccination" (TCV) that comprises the injection of activated and attenuated CD4+ T cell clones so as to induce protective CD8+ T cells. We hypothesized that Qa-1-restricted CD8+ regulatory T cells could also constitute a physiologic regulatory arm of lymphocyte responses upon expansion of endogenous CD4+ T cells, in the absence of deliberate exogenous T cell vaccination. We immunized mice with two types of antigenic challenges in order to sequentially expand antigen-specific endogenous CD4+ T cells with distinct antigenic specificities but characterized by a common Vß chain in their TCR. The first immunization was performed with a non-self antigen while the second challenge was performed with a myelin-derived peptide known to drive experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. We show that regulatory Vß-specific Qa-1-restricted CD8+ T cells induced during the first endogenous CD4+ T cell responses are able to control the expansion of subsequently mobilized pathogenic autoreactive CD4+ T cells. In conclusion, apart from the immunotherapeutic TCV, Qa-1-restricted specialized CD8+ regulatory T cells can also be induced during endogenous CD4+ T cell responses. At variance with other regulatory T cell subsets, the action of these Qa-1-restricted T cells seems to be restricted to the immediate re-activation of CD4+ T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21628
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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