"Defining the contributions of regulatory T cells to mucosal antiviral immunity"
Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2) infects over 24 million individuals in the U.S. alone. While the virus
can be treated, there is no cure or a vaccine that can prevent infection. A mouse model of intravaginal
HSV-2 infection that uses the human pathogen and utilizes the genital route of infection, predominant in
the human population, has demonstrated the importance of CD4 T cells for viral control. Further
evidence demonstrates that regulatory T cells (Tregs), a subset of CD4 T cells, are important for
successful viral control, but the mechanism underlying their contribution needs to be clarified further.
The proposed research aims to test the hypothesis, suggested by preliminary data, that the lack of Tregs
at the time of HSV-2 infection leads to a dysregulation of dendritic cell migration from the infected
tissue to the draining lymph node, a process that is essential for CD4 T cell priming. Furthermore, the
proposed research will extend these findings to evaluate how the lack of Tregs at the time of T cell
priming affects the development of T cell memory, which has the potential to inform the development
of an HSV-2 vaccine. Together, the two aims of this research will provide a more complete picture of
how a successful host immune response controls HSV-2 pathogenesis