Mucosal Immunol. 2019 Jul 5. doi: 10.1038/s41385-019-0183-z. [Epub ahead of print]
T-bet optimizes CD4 T-cell responses against influenza through CXCR3-dependent lung trafficking but not functional programming.

Dhume K1, Finn CM1, Strutt TM1,2, Sell S3, McKinstry KK4,5.
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Although clearance of many intracellular pathogens requires T-bet-dependent CD4 T cell programming, the extent to which T-bet is needed to direct protective CD4 responses against influenza is not known. Here, we characterize wild-type and T-bet-deficient CD4 cells during murine influenza infection. Surprisingly, although T-bet expression has broad impacts on cytokine production by virus-specific CD4 cells, the protective efficacy of T-bet-deficient effector cells is only marginally reduced. This reduction is due to lower CXCR3 expression, leading to suboptimal accumulation of activated T-bet-deficient cells in the infected lung. However, T-bet-deficient cells outcompete wild-type cells to form lung-resident and circulating memory populations following viral clearance, and primed T-bet-deficient mice efficiently clear supralethal heterosubtypic influenza challenges even when depleted of CD8 T cells. These results are relevant to the identification of more incisive correlates of protective T cells and for vaccines that aim to induce durable cellular immunity against influenza.

PMID: 31278374 DOI: 10.1038/s41385-019-0183-z