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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 1;106(48):20371-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911573106. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

Inducible costimulator promotes helper T-cell differentiation through phosphoinositide 3-kinase.

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  • 1Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, Montréal, Canada H2W 1R7.


The T-cell costimulatory receptors, CD28 and the inducible costimulator (ICOS), are required for the generation of follicular B helper T cells (T(FH)) and germinal center (GC) reaction. A common signal transducer used by CD28 and ICOS is the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). Although it is known that CD28-mediated PI3K activation is dispensable for GC reaction, the role of ICOS-driven PI3K signaling has not been defined. We show here that knock-in mice that selectively lost the ability to activate PI3K through ICOS had severe defects in T(FH) generation, GC reaction, antibody class switch, and antibody affinity maturation. In preactivated CD4(+) T cells, ICOS delivered a potent PI3K signal that was critical for the induction of the key T(FH) cytokines, IL-21 and IL-4. Under the same settings, CD28 was unable to activate PI3K but supported a robust secondary expansion of T cells. Thus, our results demonstrate a nonredundant function of ICOS-PI3K pathway in the generation of T(FH) and suggest that CD28 and ICOS play differential roles during a multistep process of T(FH) differentiation.

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