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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The requirement for competent antigen presenting dendritic cells and poised T cells for immune responses Omilusik, Kyla Dione


Immune responses are initiated by dendritic cells (DCs) that cross present exogenous antigen to naïve T cells. DC cross presentation is essential for generating primary immune responses, yet the mechanistic details remain undefined. Using a CD74⁻/⁻ mouse model, a CD74-MHC I association was shown to mediate trafficking of MHC I from the endoplasmic reticulum to endolysosomal compartments for antigenic loading. These studies describe a novel CD74-mediated cross presentation pathway in DCs that plays a major role in the generation of cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses against viral and cell-associated antigens. Viruses such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have evolved mechanisms to interfere with immune activation allowing persistence in the host. HIV can infect DCs so the HIV virulence factor, Nef, which interacts with MHC I, has the potential to interfere with MHC I trafficking in the cross presentation pathway. Using a Nef-expressing DC line, Nef was shown to downregulate surface MHC I by inhibiting Golgi-to-surface transport of newly synthesized MHC I and by increasing the recycling of surface MHC I. Coordinately, Nef was shown to inhibit both direct and cross presentation of viral and soluble antigen. Similarly, in a Nef transgenic mouse, Nef was shown to inhibit CTL responses to bacterial and viral infections. This unique immunosubversion mechanism likely contributes to immunodeficiency associated with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Peripheral pools of naïve T cells capable of responding to DC stimulus are maintained through homeostatic cues including TCR signalling. Key to this is the second messenger calcium (Ca²⁺); however, the identity of the components regulating intracellular Ca²⁺ concentrations is unclear. Through examination of a knock-out mouse model, the Ca²⁺ channel, CaV1.4, was shown to play a cell-intrinsic role in naïve T cell development and survival. CaV1.4 is critical for regulation of intracellular Ca²⁺ stores and for TCR-induced increases in cytosolic Ca²⁺, which impacts Ras/ERK and NFAT activation. The CaV1.4 deficiency causes a loss of naïve T cells and results in immunodeficiency. These studies reveal a critical function for CaV1.4 in naïve T cell homeostasis. Collectively, this thesis demonstrates the importance of cross presenting DCs and maintenance of T cells for functional immunity.

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