Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

John T. Harty


Antigen-specific CD8 T cells provide an important protective role in response to infection by viruses, intracellular bacteria, and parasites. Pathogen-specific CD8 T cells render this protection by undergoing robust expansion in numbers while gaining the ability to produce cytokines and cytolytic machinery. Following expansion and effector differentiation, pathogen-specific CD8 T cells will contract in number while further differentiating into a highly functional population of memory CD8 T cells. These antigen-experienced cells persist in secondary lymphoid organs and the periphery in order to rapidly respond to repeated infection. Creating optimal CD8 T cell responses to infection can be critical for raising sufficient armament to provide protection against invading intracellular pathogens. Although CD8 T cells have protective value, many vaccine strategies tend to focus on creating productive B cell antibody responses to promote immunological protection. Even though antibody responses can be highly protective, coupling optimal CD8 T cell responses with B cell responses could provide higher orders of protection than either one on their own. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the pathways that ultimately guide the magnitude of CD8 T cell responses is required to achieve this potential therapeutic benefit.

My studies evaluate the role of receptor signaling events in guiding the expansion of activated CD8 T cells during primary and secondary responses. Specifically, the first portion of my studies dissect the mechanism by which direct IL-12 and Type I IFN stimulation can substantially bolster primary CD8 T cell responses in vivo. Within this context, I demonstrate that direct IL-12 and Type I IFN signaling increases CD8 T cell accumulation during primary expansion by prolonging division without altering survival. IL-12/Type I IFN signaling promoted prolonged division of activated CD8 T cells by maintaining high-affinity IL-2 receptor subunit (CD25) expression and IL-2 signaling. The other portion of my work was dedicated to understanding the expression and role of the inhibitory FcgR (FcgRIIB) during primary and secondary CD8 T cell responses. FcgRIIB expression could be detected as early as the peak of the CD8 T cell response and marked activated CD8 T cells that were highly sensitive to antigen stimulation. Although FcgRIIB did not appear to play a substantial role in regulating the magnitude of primary CD8 T cell responses, it played an important role in inhibiting the expansion and cytotoxicity of memory CD8 T cells during homologous challenge. Collectively, these data highlight potential avenues that could be exploited by future therapies that aim to achieve appropriately sized CD8 T cell responses.


CD25, CD8 T cell, FcgRIIb, IL-12, Signal 3, Type I IFN


xv, 175 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 157-175).


Copyright 2014 Gabriel Roy Starbeck-Miller