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J Exp Med. 2013 Jul 1;210(7):1463-79. doi: 10.1084/jem.20112495. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

N-ras couples antigen receptor signaling to Eomesodermin and to functional CD8+ T cell memory but not to effector differentiation.

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  • 1Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, CSIC/Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


Signals from the TCR that specifically contribute to effector versus memory CD8⁺ T cell differentiation are poorly understood. Using mice and adoptively transferred T lymphocytes lacking the small GTPase N-ras, we found that N-ras-deficient CD8⁺ T cells differentiate efficiently into antiviral primary effectors but have a severe defect in generating protective memory cells. This defect was rescued, although only partly, by rapamycin-mediated inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in vivo. The memory defect correlated with a marked impairment in vitro and in vivo of the antigen-mediated early induction of T-box transcription factor Eomesodermin (Eomes), whereas T-bet was unaffected. Besides N-ras, early Eomes induction in vitro required phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation, and it was largely insensitive to rapamycin. Consistent with N-ras coupling Eomes to T cell memory, retrovirally enforced expression of Eomes in N-ras-deficient CD8⁺ T cells effectively rescued their memory differentiation. Thus, our study identifies a critical role for N-ras as a TCR-proximal regulator of Eomes for early determination of the CD8⁺ T cell memory fate.

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