T cell antigen-presenting cell (APC) interactions early during chronic viral infection are crucial for determining viral set point and disease outcome, but how and when different APC subtypes contribute to these outcomes is unclear. The TNF receptor superfamily (TNFRSF) member GITR is important for CD4+ T cell accumulation and control of chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). We found that type I interferon (IFN-I) induced TNFSF ligands GITRL, 4-1BBL, OX40L, and CD70 predominantly on monocyte-derived APCs and CD80 and CD86 predominantly on classical dendritic cells (cDCs). Mice with hypofunctional GITRL in Lyz2+ cells had decreased LCMV-specific CD4+ T cell accumulation and increased viral load. GITR signals in CD4+ T cells occurred after priming to upregulate OX40, CD25, and chemokine receptor CX3CR1. Thus IFN-I (signal 3) induced a post-priming checkpoint (signal 4) for CD4+ T cell accumulation, revealing a division of labor between cDCs and monocyte-derived APCs in regulating T cell expansion.
Immunophenotyping of peripheral blood by flow cytometry determines changes in the frequency and activation status of peripheral leukocytes during disease and treatment. It has the potential to predict therapeutic efficacy and identify novel therapeutic targets. Whole blood staining utilizes unmanipulated blood, which minimizes artifacts that can occur during sample preparation. However, whole blood staining must also be done on freshly collected blood to ensure the integrity of the sample. Additionally, it is best to prepare antibody cocktails on the same day to avoid potential instability of tandem-dyes and prevent reagent interaction between brilliant violet dyes. Therefore, whole blood staining requires careful standardization to control for intra and inter-experimental variability. Here, we report deployment of an automated liquid handler equipped with a two-dimensional (2D) barcode reader into a standard process of making antibody cocktails for flow cytometry. Antibodies were transferred into 2D barcoded tubes arranged in a 96 well format and their contents compiled in a database. The liquid handler could then locate the source antibody vials by referencing antibody names within the database. Our method eliminated tedious coordination for positioning of source antibody tubes. It provided versatility allowing the user to easily change any number of details in the antibody dispensing process such as specific antibody to use, volume, and destination by modifying the database without rewriting the scripting in the software method for each assay. A proof of concept experiment achieved outstanding inter and intra- assay precision, demonstrated by replicate preparation of an 11-color, 17-antibody flow cytometry assay. These methodologies increased overall throughput for flow cytometry assays and facilitated daily preparation of the complex antibody cocktails required for the detailed phenotypic characterization of freshly collected anticoagulated peripheral blood.