Accessing Epstein-Barr virus-specific T-cell memory with peptide-loaded dendritic cells.
Redchenko IV., Rickinson AB.
The conventional means of studying Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) memory, by in vitro stimulation with the latently infected autologous lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL), has important limitations. First, it gives no information on memory to lytic cycle antigens; second, it preferentially amplifies the dominant components of latent antigen-specific memory at the expense of key subdominant reactivities. Here we describe an alternative approach, based on in vitro stimulation with epitope peptide-loaded dendritic cells (DCs), which allows one to probe the CTL repertoire for any individual reactivity of choice; this method proved significantly more efficient than stimulation with peptide alone. Using this approach we first show that reactivities to the immunodominant and subdominant lytic cycle epitopes identified by T cells during primary EBV infection are regularly detectable in the CTL memory of virus carriers; this implies that in such carriers chronic virus replication remains under direct T-cell control. We further show that subdominant latent cycle reactivities to epitopes in the latent membrane protein LMP2, though rarely undetectable in LCL-stimulated populations, can be reactivated by DC stimulation and selectively expanded as polyclonal CTL lines; the adoptive transfer of such preparations may be of value in targeting certain EBV-positive malignancies.