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Blood. 2008 Aug 1;112(3):652-60. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-01-134486. Epub 2008 May 27.

c-Cbl expression levels regulate the functional responses of human central and effector memory CD4 T cells.

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Division of Experimental Oncology, Multidisciplinary Oncology Center, Department of Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The biochemical mechanisms controlling the diverse functional outcomes of human central memory (CM) and effector memory (EM) T-cell responses triggered through the T-cell receptor (TCR) remain poorly understood. We implemented reverse phase protein arrays to profile TCR signaling components in human CD8 and CD4 memory T-cell subsets isolated ex vivo. As compared with CD4 CM cells, EM cells express statistically significant increased amounts of SLP-76 and reduced levels of c-Cbl, Syk, Fyn, and LAT. Moreover, in EM cells reduced expression of negative regulator c-Cbl correlates with expression of c-Cbl kinases (Syk and Fyn), PI3K, and LAT. Importantly, consistent with reduced expression of c-Cbl, EM cells display a lower functional threshold than CM cells. Increasing c-Cbl content of EM cells to the same level as that of CM cells using cytosolic transduction, we impaired their proliferation and cytokine production. This regulatory mechanism depends primarily on c-Cbl E3 ubiquitin ligase activity as evidenced by the weaker impact of enzymatically deficient c-Cbl C381A mutant on EM cell functions. Our study reports c-Cbl as a critical regulator of the functional responses of memory T cell subsets and identifies for the first time in humans a mechanism controlling the functional heterogeneity of memory CD4 cells.

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