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Immunology. 2006 Feb;117(2):248-61.

Deletion is neither sufficient nor necessary for the induction of peripheral tolerance in mature CD8+ T cells.

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Interdisciplinary Program in Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 52242, USA.


Previous reports have demonstrated clonal deletion of CD8(+) T cells during peripheral tolerance induction to tissue antigens. However, direct evidence demonstrating a causal connection between deletion and tolerance has not been reported because of model limitations in which the tissue antigens were expressed in vital organs. Thus, studies were initiated in a mouse model where expression of a membrane-bound ovalbumin fusion protein (mOVA) was driven by a prostate specific androgen regulated probasin promotor, providing restricted expression in a non-vital organ where antigen levels can be abrogated through androgen deprivation. Adoptive transfer of mOVA specific CD8(+) T cells (OT-I) was used to assess the development of peripheral tolerance. Proliferation of OT-I cells was observed, as was partial deletion of transferred OT-I cells. Although deletion occurred, the long-term persistence of a stable level of OT-I cells was observed. Importantly, the persistent OT-I cells lost antigen responsiveness within 3 weeks of transfer. Castration resulted in loss of high-level prostate mOVA expression, with a resultant abrogation of tolerance induction, but surprisingly did not affect the deletion rate of OT-I cells. In contrast, abrogation of deletion through the adoptive transfer of OT-I cells from third generation CD95-deficient mice had no effect on tolerance induction. These data demonstrate the necessity for continued expression of tissue antigen throughout the establishment of peripheral tolerance. Furthermore, these findings demonstrate that deletion is neither sufficient nor required for CD8(+) T-cell tolerance to tissue antigens, suggesting that regulatory events independent of deletion are necessary for peripheral tolerance induction to prostate antigens.

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