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J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):6047-56.

The role of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and phosphoinositide-3-OH kinase signal transduction pathways in CD40 ligand-induced dendritic cell activation and expansion of virus-specific CD8+ T cell memory responses.

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  • 1Clinical Sciences Division and. St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Mature dendritic cells (DCs) are central to the development of optimal T cell immune responses. CD40 ligand (CD40L, CD154) is one of the most potent maturation stimuli for immature DCs. We studied the role of three signaling pathways, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and phosphoinositide-3-OH kinase (PI3K), in CD40L-induced monocyte-derived DC activation, survival, and expansion of virus-specific CD8(+) T cell responses. p38 MAPK pathway was critical for CD40L-mediated up-regulation of CD83, a marker of DC maturation. CD40L-induced monocyte-derived DC IL-12 production was mediated by both the p38 MAPK and PI3K pathways. CD40L-mediated DC survival was mostly mediated by the PI3K pathway, with smaller contributions by p38 MAPK and ERK pathways. Finally, the p38 MAPK pathway was most important in mediating CD40L-stimulated DCs to induce strong allogeneic responses as well as expanding virus-specific memory CD8(+) T cell responses. Thus, although the p38 MAPK, PI3K, and ERK pathways independently affect various parameters of DC maturation induced by CD40L, the p38 MAPK pathway within CD40L-conditioned DCs is the most important pathway to maximally elicit T cell immune responses. This pathway should be exploited in vivo to either completely suppress or enhance CD8(+) T cell immune responses.

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