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J Immunol. 2008 Apr 15;180(8):5275-82.

The apoptotic pathway contributing to the deletion of naive CD8 T cells during the induction of peripheral tolerance to a cross-presented self-antigen.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The maintenance of T cell tolerance in the periphery proceeds through several mechanisms, including anergy, immuno-regulation, and deletion via apoptosis. We examined the mechanism underlying the induction of CD8 T cell peripheral tolerance to a self-Ag expressed on pancreatic islet beta-cells. Following adoptive transfer, Ag-specific clone 4 T cells underwent deletion independently of extrinsic death receptors, including Fas, TNFR1, or TNFR2. Additional experiments revealed that the induction of clone 4 T cell apoptosis during peripheral tolerance occurred via an intrinsic death pathway that could be inhibited by overexpression of Bcl-2 or targeted deletion of the proapoptotic molecule, Bim, thereby resulting in accumulation of activated clone 4 T cells. Over-expression of Bcl-2 in clone 4 T cells promoted the development of effector function and insulitis whereas Bim-/- clone 4 cells were not autoaggressive. Examination of the upstream molecular mechanisms contributing to clone 4 T cell apoptosis revealed that it proceeded in a p53, E2F1, and E2F2-independent manner. Taken together, these data reveal that initiation of clone 4 T cell apoptosis during the induction of peripheral tolerance to a cross-presented self-Ag occurs through a Bcl-2-sensitive and at least partially Bim-dependent mechanism.

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