Constitutive resistance to viral infection in human CD141+ dendritic cells

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Science Immunology  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 13, eaai8071
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aai8071

Divided, they conquer

Dendritic cells (DCs) play a crucial role in priming T cell–driven antiviral responses. Silvin et al. have examined the paradox of how virus-infected DCs retain the ability to drive adaptive immune responses. In response to endocytic viruses, they found CD1c+ DCs to be susceptible to infection and death, whereas CD141+ DCs were not. They report that viral resistance of CD141+ DCs was conferred by the expression of an endocytic guanosine triphosphatase, RAB15, and that transfer of antigen from infected CD1c+ DCs by CD141+ DCs allowed these virus-resistant DCs to prime T cell responses. By documenting a division of labor between DC subsets that separates antigen acquisition from antigen presentation, Silvin et al. offer a solution to this long-standing puzzle.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are critical for the launching of protective T cell immunity in response to viral infection. Viruses can directly infect DCs, thereby compromising their viability and suppressing their ability to activate immune responses. How DC function is maintained in light of this paradox is not understood. By analyzing the susceptibility of primary human DC subsets to viral infections, we report that CD141+ DCs have an innate resistance to infection by a broad range of enveloped viruses, including HIV and influenza virus. In contrast, CD1c+ DCs are susceptible to infection, which enables viral antigen production but impairs their immune functions and survival. The ability of CD141+ DCs to resist infection is conferred by RAB15, a vesicle-trafficking protein constitutively expressed in this DC subset. We show that CD141+ DCs rely on viral antigens produced in bystander cells to launch cross-presentation–driven T cell responses. By dissociating viral infection from antigen presentation, this mechanism protects the functional capacity of DCs to launch adaptive immunity against viral infection.

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