Persistent viruses evade immune detection by interfering with virus-specific innate and adaptive antiviral immune responses. Fibrinogen-like protein-2 (FGL2) is a potent effector molecule of CD4+ CD25+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells and exerts its immunosuppressive activity following ligation to its cognate receptor, FcγRIIB/RIII. The role of FGL2 in the pathogenesis of chronic viral infection caused by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus clone-13 (LCMV cl-13) was assessed in this study. Chronically infected fgl2+/+ mice had increased plasma levels of FGL2, with reduced expression of the maturation markers, CD80, CD86 and MHC-II on macrophages and dendritic cells and impaired production of neutralizing antibody. In contrast, fgl2-/- mice or fgl2+/+ mice that had been pre-treated with antibodies to FGL2 and FcγRIIB/RIII and then infected with LCMV cl-13 developed a robust CD4+ and CD8+ antiviral T-cell response, produced high titred neutralizing antibody to LCMV and cleared LCMV. Treatment of mice with established chronic infection with antibodies to FGL2 and FcγRIIB/RIII was shown to rescue the number and functionality of virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells with reduced total and virus-specific T-cell expression of programmed cell death protein 1 leading to viral clearance. These results demonstrate an important role for FGL2 in viral immune evasion and provide a rationale to target FGL2 to treat patients with chronic viral infection.
Keywords: T-cell exhaustion; chronic infection; fibrinogen-like protein 2.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.