Due to a unique pattern of CD8 T-cell response induced by cytomegaloviruses (CMVs), live attenuated CMVs are attractive candidates for vaccine vectors for a number of clinically relevant infections and tumors. NKG2D is one of the most important activating NK cell receptors that plays a role in costimulation of CD8 T cells. Here we demonstrate that the expression of CD8 T-cell epitope of Listeria monocytogenes by a recombinant mouse CMV (MCMV) expressing the NKG2D ligand retinoic acid early-inducible protein 1-gamma (RAE-1γ) dramatically enhanced the effectiveness and longevity of epitope-specific CD8 T-cell response and conferred protection against a subsequent challenge infection with Listeria monocytogenes. Unexpectedly, the attenuated growth in vivo of the CMV vector expressing RAE-1γ and its capacity to enhance specific CD8 T-cell response were preserved even in mice lacking NKG2D, implying additional immune function for RAE-1γ beyond engagement of NKG2D. Thus, vectors expressing RAE-1γ represent a promising approach in the development of CD8 T-cell-based vaccines.
Keywords: CD8 T cell vaccine; RAE-1 gamma; vaccine vector.