alpha(4)beta(7) independent pathway for CD8(+) T cell-mediated intestinal immunity to rotavirus.


Rotavirus (RV), which replicates exclusively in cells of the small intestine, is the most important cause of severe diarrhea in young children worldwide. Using a mouse model, we show that expression of the intestinal homing integrin alpha(4)ss(7) is not essential for CD8(+) T cells to migrate to the intestine or provide immunity to RV. Mice deficient in ss7 expression (ss7(-/-)) and unable to express alpha(4)ss(7) integrin were found to clear RV as quickly as wild-type (wt) animals. Depletion of CD8(+) T cells in ss7(-/-) animals prolonged viral shedding, and transfer of immune ss7(-/-) CD8(+) T cells into chronically infected Rag-2-deficient mice resolved RV infection as efficiently as wt CD8(+) T cells. Paradoxically, alpha(4)ss(7)(hi) memory CD8(+) T cells purified from wt mice that had been orally immunized cleared RV more efficiently than alpha(4)ss(7)(low) CD8(+) T cells. We explained this apparent contradiction by demonstrating that expression of alpha(4)ss(7) on effector CD8(+) T cells depends upon the site of initial antigen exposure: oral immunization generates RV-specific CD8(+) T cells primarily of an alpha(4)ss(7)(hi) phenotype, but subcutaneous immunization yields both alpha(4)ss(7)(hi) and alpha(4)ss(7)(low) immune CD8(+) T cells with anti-RV effector capabilities. Thus, alpha(4)ss(7) facilitates normal intestinal immune trafficking to the gut, but it is not required for effective CD8(+) T cell immunity.

J Clin Invest