CD4 T cells are important for development of long-term immunity to bacterial infections. Here we describe construction of a group A streptococcus (GAS) strain that expresses the model ovalbumin epitope (OVA) on its surface, and the use of this strain in adoptive transfer experiments to study CD4 T cell response to bacterial infection in nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT), which was previously shown W be a specific target for GAS colonization. The OVA+ GAS, but not the wild-type strain was shown to activate CD4 T cells in an antigen-specific manner both in vitro and in vivo. After intranasal infection of mice with this strain, OVA-specific CD4 T cells were first activated in NALT, which is functionally equivalent to human tonsils, rather than in the cervical lymph nodes. During localized infection, OVA+ GAS induced rapid and prolonged activation of CD4 T cells at higher magnitudes in the NALT than in draining lymph nodes and spleen, where CD4 T cells underwent little or no activation. In contrast, systemic infection induced significantly higher activation of CD4 T cells in both lymph nodes and spleens, compared to when the infection was localized in NALT. Further investigation of cellular immune responses in NALT during GAS infection using adoptive T cell transfer, combined with the model antigen on the pathogen may ultimately shed light on mechanisms for failure of children to develop protective immune responses following streptococcal tonsillitis.
- CD4 T cells