CBLB Constrains Inactivated Vaccine–Induced CD8+ T Cell Responses and Immunity against Lethal Fungal Pneumonia
Fungal infections in CD4+ T cell immunocompromised patients have risen sharply in recent years. Although vaccines offer a rational avenue to prevent infections, there are no licensed fungal vaccines available. Inactivated vaccines are safer but less efficacious and require adjuvants that may undesirably bias toward poor protective immune responses. We hypothesized that reducing the TCR signaling threshold could potentiate antifungal CD8+ T cell responses and immunity to inactivated vaccine in the absence of CD4+ T cells. In this study, we show that CBLB, a negative regulator of TCR signaling, suppresses CD8+ T cells in response to inactivated fungal vaccination in a mouse model of CD4+ T cell lymphopenia. Conversely, Cblb deficiency enhanced both the type 1 (e.g., IFN-g) and type 17 (IL-17A) CD8+ T cell responses to inactivated fungal vaccines and augmented vaccine immunity to lethal fungal pneumonia. Furthermore, we show that immunization with live or inactivated vaccine yeast did not cause detectable pathologic condition in Cblb2/2 mice. Augmented CD8+ T cell responses in the absence of CBLB also did not lead to terminal differentiation or adversely affect the expression of transcription factors T-bet, Eomes, and RORgt. Additionally, our adoptive transfer experiments showed that CBLB impedes the effector CD8+ T cell responses in a cell-intrinsic manner. Finally, we showed that ablation of Cblb overcomes the requirement of HIF-1a for expansion of CD8+ T cells upon vaccination. Thus, adjuvants that target CBLB may augment inactivated vaccines and immunity against systemic fungal infections in vulnerable patients. The Journal of Immunology, 2018, 201: 000–000.