A fundamental challenge in immunology is to decipher the principles governing immune responses at the whole-organism scale. Here, using a comparative infection model, we observe immune signal propagation within and between organs to obtain a dynamic map of immune processes at the organism level. We uncover two inter-organ mechanisms of protective immunity mediated by soluble and cellular factors. First, analyzing ligand-receptor connectivity across tissues reveals that type I IFNs trigger a whole-body antiviral state, protecting the host within hours after skin vaccination. Second, combining parabiosis, single-cell analyses, and gene knockouts, we uncover a multi-organ web of tissue-resident memory T cells that functionally adapt to their environment to stop viral spread across the organism. These results have implications for manipulating tissue-resident memory T cells through vaccination and open up new lines of inquiry for the analysis of immune responses at the organism level.
Keywords: T cell memory; organismal immunology; single-cell analysis; systems biology; vaccines.
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