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CD8 T cells play a crucial role in providing protection from viral infections. It has recently been established that a subset of CD8 T cells expressing Tcf1 are responsible for sustaining exhausted T cells during chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection. Many of these studies, however, have been performed using T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mice, in which CD8 T cells express a monoclonal TCR specific for the LCMV glycoprotein. To investigate whether the Tcf1+ and Tcf1- repertoires are naturally composed of similar or different clones in wild-type mice exposed to acute or chronic LCMV infection, we performed TCR repertoire sequencing of virus-specific CD8 T cells, including Tcf1+ and Tcf1- populations. Our analysis revealed that the Tcf1+ TCR repertoire is maintained at an equal or higher degree of clonal diversity despite harboring fewer cells. Additionally, within the same animal, there was extensive clonal overlap between the Tcf1+ and Tcf1- repertoires in both chronic and acute LCMV infection. We could further detect these virus-specific clones in longitudinal blood samples earlier in the infection. With respect to common repertoire parameters (clonal overlap, germline gene usage, and clonal expansion), we found minor differences between the virus-specific TCR repertoire of acute and chronic LCMV infection 40 days post infection. Overall, our results indicate that the Tcf1+ population emerging during chronic LCMV infection is not clonally distinct from the Tcf1- population, supporting the notion that the Tcf1+ pool is indeed a fuel for the more exhausted Tcf1- population within the heterogenous repertoire of LCMV-specific CD8 T cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Front immunol

Publication Date





TCF1, TCR sequencing, adaptive immune receptor repertoire sequencing, deep sequencing, viral infection