H-2b mice are resistant to persistent infection of the central nervous system by Theiler's virus. They clear the infection 7 to 10 days after intracranial inoculation. Resistance maps to the H-2D gene and not to the H-2K gene and is associated with a potent antiviral cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) response. We used H-2b mice in which the H-2D or the H-2K gene had been inactivated to dissect the respective roles of these genes in resistance. We report that H-2D−/− but not H-2K−/− mice were susceptible to persistent infection. Furthermore, whereas H-2K−/− mice mounted a vigorous virus-specific CTL response, similar to that of control C57BL/6 mice, the CTL response of H-2D−/− mice was nil or minimal. Using target cells transfected with the H-2Db or the H-2Kb gene, we showed that the H-2K-restricted CTL response against the virus was minimal in H-2D−/− mice. These results demonstrate that the H-2Db and H-2Kb genes play nonredundant roles in the resistance to this persistent infection
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