Pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus causes abortive infection of primary human T cells

Influenza A virus still represents a noticeable epidemic risk to international public health at present, despite the extensive use of vaccines and anti-viral drugs. In the fight against pathogens, the immune defense lines consisting of diverse lymphocytes are indispensable for humans. However, the role of virus infection of lymphocytes and subsequent abnormal immune cell death remains to be explored. Different T cell subpopulations have distinct characterizations and functions, and we reveal the high heterogeneity of susceptibility to viral infection and biological responses such as apoptosis in various CD4+ T and CD8+ T cell subsets through single-cell transcriptome analyses. Effector memory CD8+ T cells (CD8+ TEM) that mediate protective memory are identified as the most susceptible subset to pandemic influenza A virus infection among primary human T cells. Non-productive infection is established in CD8+ TEM and na?ve CD8+ T cells, which indicate the mechanism of intracellular antiviral activities for inhibition of virus replication such as abnormal viral splicing efficiency, incomplete life cycles and up-regulation of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in human T cells. These findings provide insights into understanding lymphopenia and the infectious mechanisms of pandemic influenza A virus and broad immune host-pathogen interactional atlas in primary human T cells.