Respiratory syncytial virus interferon antagonist NS1 protein suppresses and skews the human T lymphocyte response

Shirin Munir, Philippa Hillyer, Cyril le Nouën, Ursula J. Buchholz, Ronald L. Rabin, Peter L. Collins, Alexander Bukreyev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


We recently demonstrated that the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) NS1 protein, an antagonist of host type I interferon (IFN-I) production and signaling, has a suppressive effect on the maturation of human dendritic cells (DC) that was only partly dependent on released IFN-I. Here we investigated whether NS1 affects the ability of DC to activate CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Human DC were infected with RSV deletion mutants lacking the NS1 and/or NS2 genes and assayed for the ability to activate autologous T cells in vitro, which were analyzed by multi-color flow cytometry. Deletion of the NS1, but not NS2, protein resulted in three major effects: (i) an increased activation and proliferation of CD8+ T cells that express CD103, a tissue homing integrin that directs CD8+ T cells to mucosal epithelial cells of the respiratory tract and triggers cytolytic activity; (ii) an increased activation and proliferation of Th17 cells, which have recently been shown to have anti-viral effects and also indirectly attract neutrophils; and (iii) decreased activation of IL-4-producing CD4+ T cells - which are associated with enhanced RSV disease - and reduced proliferation of total CD4+ T cells. Except for total CD4+ T cell proliferation, none of the T cell effects appeared to be due to increased IFN-I signaling. In the infected DC, deletion of the NS1 and NS2 genes strongly up-regulated the expression of cytokines and other molecules involved in DC maturation. This was partly IFN-I-independent, and thus might account for the T cell effects. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the NS1 protein suppresses proliferation and activation of two of the protective cell populations (CD103+ CD8+ T cells and Th17 cells), and promotes proliferation and activation of Th2 cells that can enhance RSV disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001336
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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