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Keywords:

  • CD71;
  • CD8+ T cells;
  • dengue;
  • HLA-B57;
  • transferrin

Summary

Variation in the sequence of T-cell epitopes between dengue virus (DENV) serotypes is believed to alter memory T-cell responses during second heterologous infections. We identified a highly conserved, novel, HLA-B57-restricted epitope on the DENV NS1 protein. We predicted higher frequencies of B57-NS126–34-specific CD8+ T cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals undergoing secondary rather than primary DENV infection. However, high tetramer-positive T-cell frequencies during acute infection were seen in only one of nine subjects with secondary infection. B57-NS126–34-specific and other DENV epitope-specific CD8+ T cells, as well as total CD8+ T cells, expressed an activated phenotype (CD69+ and/or CD38+) during acute infection. In contrast, expression of CD71 was largely limited to DENV epitope-specific CD8+ T cells. In vitro stimulation of cell lines indicated that CD71 expression was differentially sensitive to stimulation by homologous and heterologous variant peptides. CD71 may represent a useful marker of antigen-specific T-cell activation.