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J Immunol. 2005 Jan 15;174(2):619-27.

Peripheral "CD8 tuning" dynamically modulates the size and responsiveness of an antigen-specific T cell pool in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


In this study, we suggest that CD8 levels on T cells are not static, but can change and, as a result, modulate CD8(+) T cell responses. We describe three models of CD8 modulation using novel weak-agonist (K1A) and super-agonist (C2A) altered peptide ligands of the HY smcy peptide. First, we used peripheral nonresponsive CD8(low) T cells produced after peripheral HY-D(b) MHC class I tetramer stimulation of female HY TCR transgenic and wild-type mice. Second, we used genetically lowered CD8(int) T cells from heterozygote CD8(+/0) mice. Finally, we used pre-existing nonresponsive CD8(low) T cells from male HY TCR transgenic mice. In CD8(low) and CD8(high) mice, presence of a lower level of CD8 greatly decreased the avidity of the peptide-MHC for HY TCR as reflected by avidity (K(D)) and dissociation constant (T(1/2)) measurements. All three models demonstrated that lowering CD8 levels resulted in the requirement for a higher avidity peptide-MHC interaction with the TCR to respond equivalently to unmanipulated CD8(high) T cells of the same specificity. Additionally, direct injections of wild-type HY-D(b) and C2A-D(b) tetramers into female HY TCR or female B6 mice induced a high frequency of peripheral nonresponsive CD8(low) T cells, yet C2A-D(b) was superior in inducing a primed CD8(+)CD44(+) memory population. The ability to dynamically modulate the size and responsiveness of an Ag-specific T cell pool by "CD8 tuning" of the T cell during the early phases of an immune response has important implications for the balance of responsiveness, memory, and tolerance.

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