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Cell Immunol. 2006 Aug;242(2):80-90. Epub 2006 Nov 2.

Defective T cell receptor-mediated signal transduction in memory CD4 T lymphocytes exposed to superantigen or anti-T cell receptor antibodies.

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The Department of Biomedical Sciences, The School of Public Health, The University at Albany, Albany, NY 12201-0509, USA.


Lymphocytes must promote protective immune responses while still maintaining self-tolerance. Stimulation through the T cell receptor (TCR) can lead to distinct responses in naive and memory CD4 T cells. Whereas peptide antigen stimulates both naive and memory T cells, soluble anti-CD3 antibodies and bacterial superantigens stimulate only naive T cells to proliferate and secrete cytokines. Further, superantigens, like staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), cause memory T cells to become anergic while soluble anti-CD3 does not. In the present report, we show that signal transduction through the TCR is impaired in memory cells exposed to either anti-CD3 or SEB. A block in signaling leads to impaired activation of the kinase ZAP-70 so that downstream signals and cell proliferation do not occur. We further show that the signaling defect is unique to each agent. In anti-CD3-treated memory T cells, the src kinase Lck is only transiently activated and does not phosphorylate and activate ZAP-70. In SEB-treated memory T cells, ZAP-70 does not interact with the TCR/CD3 complex to become accessible to Lck. Finally, we provide evidence that alternative signaling pathways are initiated in SEB-treated memory cells. Altered signaling, indicated by an elevation in activity of the src kinase Fyn, may be responsible for memory cell anergy caused by SEB. Thus, differentiation of naive T cells into memory cells is accompanied by alterations in TCR-mediated signaling that can promote heightened recall immunity or specific tolerance.

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