Cross-presentation is a crucial mechanism for generating CD8 T cell responses against exogenous Ags, such as dead cell-derived Ag, and is mainly fulfilled by CD8α+ dendritic cells (DC). Apoptotic cell death occurring in steady-state conditions is largely tolerogenic, thus hampering the onset of effector CD8 T cell responses. Type I IFNs (IFN-I) have been shown to promote cross-priming of CD8 T cells against soluble or viral Ags, partly through stimulation of DC. By using UV-irradiated OVA-expressing mouse EG7 thymoma cells, we show that IFN-I promote intracellular Ag persistence in CD8α+ DC that have engulfed apoptotic EG7 cells, regulating intracellular pH, thus enhancing cross-presentation of apoptotic EG7-derived OVA Ag by CD8α+ DC. Notably, IFN-I also sustain the survival of Ag-bearing CD8α+ DC by selective upmodulation of antiapoptotic genes and stimulate the activation of cross-presenting DC. The ensemble of these effects results in the induction of CD8 T cell effector response in vitro and in vivo. Overall, our data indicate that IFN-I cross-prime CD8 T cells against apoptotic cell-derived Ag both by licensing DC and by enhancing cross-presentation.
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