ROLE OF MULTIPLE TOLL-LIKE RECEPTOR ACTIVATION IN REGULATING CYTOTOXIC T CELL PRIMING TO LYMPOCYTIC CHORIOMENINGITIS VIRUS INFECTIONS
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Foreign pathogens are recognized by toll-like receptors (TLR), present on various immune cells such as professional antigen-presenting cells (pAPCs). On recognition of its ligand, these receptors activate pAPCs, which may in turn influence naïve CD8+ T cell activation and affect their abilities to clear viral infection. However, how TLR ligands (TLR-L) can regulate CD8+ T cell responses have not been fully elucidated. This thesis will focus on examining how the presence of components from foreign pathogens, e.g. viral or bacterial infection, can contribute to shaping host immunity during concurrent viral infections. Since nitric oxide (NO), an innate effector immune molecule, was recently suggested to regulate proteasome activity; we sought to examine if NO can influence MHC-I antigen presentation during viral infections. The data in this section of the thesis provides evidence that combined TLR engagement can alter the presentation of certain CD8+ epitopes due to NO-induced inhibition in proteasome activity. Taken together, the data demonstrate that TLR ligation can influence the adaptive immune response due to induction of specific innate effector molecules such as NO. Next, the influence of combined TLR engagement on CD8+ T cell immunodominance hierarchies during viral infections was examined. In this section, we established that dual TLR2 and TLR3 stimulation alters immunodominance hierarchies of LCMV epitopes as a result of reduced uptake of cell-associated antigens and reduced cross-presentation of NP396 consequently suppressing NP396-specific CD8+ T cell responses. These findings are significant as they highlight a new role for TLR ligands in regulating anti-viral CD8+ T cell responses through impairing cross-presentation of cell-associated antigens depending on the type of TLR present in the environment during infections. Finally, we addressed TLR ligand induced type I interferon production and the signalling pathways that regulate them in two different mouse macrophage populations – those derived from the spleen or bone marrow. In this study, we observed that concomitant TLR2 stimulation blocked the induction of type I IFN induced by TLR4 in bone marrow-derived macrophages, but not spleen-derived macrophages in SOCS3-dependent manner. Taken together, the data presented in this thesis have defined new facets of how anti-viral responses are regulated by TLR activation, especially if multiple receptors are engaged simultaneously.