Germ-line retroviral insertions in vertebrate genomes are implicated in the modulation of host immune responses. We demonstrate that CBA/J mice, which carry the proviral integrants mammary tumor virus locus 6 (Mtv6) and mammary tumor virus locus 7 (Mtv7), are less resistant to infection with the protozoan pathogen Leishmania major compared with closely related but Mtv6-negative and Mtv7-negative CBA/CaJ mice. Although both strains generated comparable L. major-specific CD4 T cell frequencies, T cells from CBA/J mice made much less interferon γ (IFN-γ). L. major-infected CBA/CaJ dendritic cells primed L. major-specific and allospecific IFN-γ-producing CD4 T cells better in vivo and in vitro, respectively, than CBA/J dendritic cells did. L. major susceptibility appeared to be associated with Mtv7, and v-Sag-7 superantigen expression and L. major infection together reduced the ability of an antigen-presenting cell line to prime alloresponder CD4 T cells for IFN-γ commitment. These data show that an endogenous superantigen can interact with L. major infection to alter antigen-presenting cell properties and modulate T cell cytokine commitment, with implications for human susceptibility to infectious diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (all)