We found that rotavirus-specific protein synthesis was not necessary for recognition by virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). In addition, CTLs lysed rotavirus-infected target cells prior to production of infectious virus. Target cell processing of rotavirus antigens for presentation to CTLs was enhanced by treatment of rotavirus with trypsin prior to infection; trypsin-induced cleavage of the viral hemagglutinin (vp4) has previously been found to facilitate rotavirus entry into target cells by direct penetration of virions through the plasma membrane. We conclude that sufficient quantities of exogenous viral proteins may be introduced into the cytoplasm for processing by target cells. The mechanism by which rotavirus proteins are processed for presentation to the target cell surface remains to be determined
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