Marking Up T Cell Memory

Science's STKE  27 Apr 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 230, pp. tw154-TW154
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2302004TW154

After clearing pathogens from the host, most T cells die and leave a small band of memory cells to fight another day. What intrinsic and extrinsic factors determine the fate and the identity of memory precursors within the larger population of cells? Madakamutil et al. (see the Perspective by Kim and Flavell) describe a population of CD8+ T cells that transiently express a homotypic form of the CD8α coreceptor after stimulation with antigen. These CD8αα T cells distinguished themselves from their CD8αβ counterparts by a resistance to activation-induced cell death and an ability to persist after viral infection. T cells from animals lacking enhancer elements for the CD8α gene, which are unable to induce sufficient CD8α expression to form homodimers, generated deficient memory responses. CD8αα displays a particularly high affinity for the major histocompatibility complex class I-like thymic leukemia antigen, which suggests that memory precursors might be singled out by specific interaction with this ligand during an immune response.

L. T. Madakamutil, U. Christen, C. J. Lena, Y. Wang-Zhu, A. Attinger, M. Sundarrajan, W. Ellmeier, M. G. von Herrath, P. Jensen, D. R. Littman, H. Cheroutre, CD8αα-mediated survival and differentiation of CD8 memory T cell precursors. Science 304, 590-593 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]

S. V. Kim, R. A. Flavell, CD8αα and T cell memory. Science 304, 529-530 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]