DEC-205 Expressing Dendritic Cells Provide Protection Against West Nile Virus Encephalitis

West Nile virus (WNV) is a neurotropic flavivirus capable of causing irreparable neuronal injury and encephalitis which can potentially result in lethal disease. In order to control WNV replication and any associated neurologic disease, it is vital that anti-viral T cells enter the central nervous system (CNS) and become fully activated. Dendritic cells (DCs) are powerful APCs responsible for activating T cells and regulating their effector immune responses, however, their role within the CNS during WNV encephalitis remains uncertain. Previously, we detected the presence of DEC-205-expressing DCs within the perivascular spaces of the CNS during WNV encephalitis. DEC-205 is an endocytic receptor expressed on a subset of DCs which have been shown to be effective at cross-presentation and initiating anti-viral immunity. We hypothesize that DEC-205 expressing DCs are critical in the immune defense against WNV encephalitis via the activation of anti-viral T cell immunity. In this study, the ability of DEC-205 expressing DCs to limit viral infection, replication, and neuronal injury will be examined utilizing a well-established mouse model of WNV encephalitis in DEC-205 expressing wild-type (WT) mice and DEC-205 gene knockout (KO) mice following WNV infection. In future studies, utilizing the same mouse model, the mechanisms by which DEC-205 expressing DCs are able to induce protection against WNV encephalitis will be determined by investigating the a