Mechanisms for generating cell membrane antigens that are recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

R. Ciavarra, C. Y. Kang, J. Forman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Studies with many viruses have revealed that viral specific protein synthesis is an obligatory step in generating antigens on target cells for antiviral cytotoxic T lymphocytes. This has been most clearly demonstrated with DI particles, virions that are structurally complete but lack infectious RNA. Adsorption of such particles onto target cell membranes does not render these cells susceptible to lytic attack by antiviral effector cells, unless some viral protein synthesis transpires. However, some viruses, such as Sendai virus, circumvent the requirement for viral protein synthesis via fusion of the viral envelope with the target cell membrane, a process mediated by a specialized fusion protein. Once inserted into the lipid bilayer, it is likely that viral components and self H-2 noncovalently associate so that the complex can be recognized by antiviral cytotoxic T cells. This idea is supported by the demonstration that viral proteins and H-2 containing membrane proteins, incorporated into reconstituted membrane vesicles or liposomes are recognized by cytotoxic T cells. These data further show that native rather than altered viral and H-2 molecules are the moieties recognized. Associations between antigen and H-2 have been detected by a variety of techniques and in some cases are not random but selective; that is, viral antigens perferentially associate with some H-2 alleles and not others. In summary, these findings indicate that although viral antigens are present in the mature virions, these components are not recognized by antiviral killer cells until integrated into the plasma membrane. This may be achieved either through direct fusion of the viral envelope with the target cell or following viral protein synthesis and insertion of viral antigens into the plasma membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-227
Number of pages6
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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