In chronic infections, the immune response fails to control virus, leading to persistent antigen stimulation and the progressive development of T cell exhaustion. T cell effector differentiation is poorly understood in the context of exhaustion, but targeting effector programs may provide new strategies for reinvigorating T cell function. We identified Tribbles pseudokinase 1 (Trib1) as a central regulator of antiviral T cell immunity, where loss of Trib1 led to a sustained enrichment of effector-like KLRG1+ T cells, enhanced function, and improved viral control. Single-cell profiling revealed that Trib1 restrains a population of KLRG1+ effector CD8 T cells that is transcriptionally distinct from exhausted cells. Mechanistically, we identified an interaction between Trib1 and the T cell receptor (TCR) signaling activator, MALT1, which disrupted MALT1 signaling complexes. These data identify Trib1 as a negative regulator of TCR signaling and downstream function, and reveal a link between Trib1 and effector versus exhausted T cell differentiation that can be targeted to improve antiviral immunity.

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