Little is known concerning immunodominance within the CD4 T-cell response to viral infections and its persistence into longterm memory. We tested CD4 T-cell reactivity against each viral protein in persons immunized with vaccinia virus (VV), either recently or more than 40 years ago, as a model self-limited viral infection. Similar tests were done with persons with herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infection as a model chronic infection. We used an indirect method capable of counting the CD4 T cells in blood reactive with each individual viral protein. Each person had a clear CD4 T-cell dominance hierarchy. The top four open reading frames accounted for about 40% of CD4 virus-specific T cells. Early and long-term memory CD4 T-cell responses to vaccinia virus were mathematically indistinguishable for antigen breadth and immunodominance. Despite the chronic intermittent presence of HSV-1 antigen, the CD4 T-cell dominance and diversity patterns for HSV-1 were identical to those observed for vaccinia virus. The immunodominant CD4 T-cell antigens included both long proteins abundantly present in virions and shorter, nonstructural proteins. Limited epitope level and direct ex vivo data were also consistent with pronounced CD4 T-cell immunodominance. We conclude that human memory CD4 T-cell responses show a pattern of pronounced immunodominance for both chronic and self-limited viral infections and that this pattern can persist over several decades in the absence of antigen.,
Journal of Virology
Department of Virology

Jing, L, Schiffer, A.A, Chong, T.M, Bruckner, J.J, Davies, D.H, Felgner, P.L, … Koellea, D.M. (2013). CD4 T-Cell memory responses to viral infections of humans show pronounced immunodominance independent of duration or viral persistence. Journal of Virology, 87(5), 2617–2627. doi:10.1128/JVI.03047-12