Absence of cross-presenting cells in the salivary gland and viral immune evasion confine cytomegalovirus immune control to effector CD4 T cells

PLoS Pathog. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002214. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002214. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Horizontal transmission of cytomegaloviruses (CMV) occurs via prolonged excretion from mucosal surfaces. We used murine CMV (MCMV) infection to investigate the mechanisms of immune control in secretory organs. CD4 T cells were crucial to cease MCMV replication in the salivary gland (SG) via direct secretion of IFNγ that initiated antiviral signaling on non-hematopoietic cells. In contrast, CD4 T cell helper functions for CD8 T cells or B cells were dispensable. Despite SG-resident MCMV-specific CD8 T cells being able to produce IFNγ, the absence of MHC class I molecules on infected acinar glandular epithelial cells due to viral immune evasion, and the paucity of cross-presenting antigen presenting cells (APCs) prevented their local activation. Thus, local activation of MCMV-specific T cells is confined to the CD4 subset due to exclusive presentation of MCMV-derived antigens by MHC class II molecules on bystander APCs, resulting in IFNγ secretion interfering with viral replication in cells of non-hematopoietic origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / virology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cross-Priming*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Immune Evasion*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Animal
  • Muromegalovirus / immunology*
  • Muromegalovirus / pathogenicity
  • Muromegalovirus / physiology
  • Salivary Glands / virology*
  • Virus Replication


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Interferon-gamma