Upregulation of Interleukin 7 Receptor Alpha and Programmed Death 1 Marks an Epitope-Specific CD8(+) T-Cell Response That Disappears following Primary Epstein-Barr Virus Infection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • D Sauce
  • M Larsen
  • Alison Leese
  • N Khan
  • L Papagno
  • GJ Freeman

Colleges, School and Institutes


In immunocompetent individuals, the stability of the herpesvirus-host balance limits opportunities to study the disappearance of a virus-specific CD8(+) T-cell response. However, we noticed that in HLA-A*0201-positive infectious mononucleosis (IM) patients undergoing primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, the initial CD8 response targets three EBV lytic antigen-derived epitopes, YVLDHLIVV (YVL), GLCTLVAML (GLC), and TLDYKPLSV (TLD), but only the YVL and GLC reactivities persist long-term; the TLD response disappears within 10 to 27 months. While present, TLD-specific cells remained largely indistinguishable from YVL and GLC reactivities in many phenotypic and functional respects but showed unique temporal changes in two markers of T-cell fate, interleukin 7 receptor alpha (IL-7R alpha; CD127) and programmed death 1 (PD-1). Thus, following the antigen-driven downregulation of IL-7R alpha seen on all populations in acute IM, in every case, the TLD-specific population recovered expression unusually quickly post-IM. As well, in four of six patients studied, TLD-specific cells showed very strong PD-1 upregulation in the last blood sample obtained before the cells' disappearance. Our data suggest that the disappearance of this individual epitope reactivity from an otherwise stable EBV-specific response (i) reflects a selective loss of cognate antigen restimulation (rather than of IL-7-dependent signals) and (ii) is immediately preceded, and perhaps mediated, by PD-1 upregulation to unprecedented levels.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9068-9078
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009