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Immunol Res. 2003;27(2-3):463-8.

Helper T cell differentiation and the problem of cellular inheritance.

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Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The quality of the helper T cell response against antigen can determine the outcomes of infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases. Mature Th1 and Th2 cell subsets are thought to arise from a common naive progenitor. In these precursor cells, effector cytokine genes appear to exist in a restrictive structure, which is determined by methylation of cytosine bases and higher-order structure of chromatin. The restrictive gene structures appear to be plastic, giving way to more active structures in some daughter cells. Some genetic loci, which are active in naive cells, however, become silenced during terminal differentiation. Both the derepression of silent loci and the silencing of active loci appear to be linked to the process of DNA replication. Future investigation will be directed toward understanding the way in which patterns of gene expression are altered or transmitted during the cell division of helper T lymphocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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