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Immunity. 1999 Sep;11(3):271-80.

Interleukin-2 expression by a subpopulation of primary T cells is linked to enhanced memory/effector function.

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Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294, USA.


Single cell studies have identified intraclonal heterogeneity of cytokine production by activated T cells. To investigate implications of cytokine heterogeneity for cell fate, an interleukin (IL)-2 promoter-green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter transgenic model was developed to track IL-2+ and IL-2- T cells during differentiation from naive precursors. Antigen-activated IL-2+ and IL-2- cells had comparable proliferative capacities in primary responses. However, T cells that expressed IL-2 in primary responses demonstrated enhanced antigenic sensitivity and increased expression of effector cytokines in secondary responses in vitro and in vivo. Thus, heterogeneity of activation during a primary response translates into heterogeneous secondary responses, in which enhanced memory/effector function is linked to cells that previously exceeded an activation threshold associated with IL-2 gene transcription.

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