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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 8;105(27):9307-12. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0704807105. Epub 2008 Jun 30.

Flexibility accompanies commitment of memory CD4 lymphocytes derived from IL-4 locus-activated precursors.

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Department of Microbiology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Differentiation of T helper (Th) subset 2 effector lymphocytes is thought to foreclose on IFN-gamma gene expression. Using an IL-4 locus modified to detect transcriptional induction of this effector cytokine gene in developing Th2 cells, we show here that these cells contributed effectively to a long-term memory population. A memory CD4 subset formed efficiently from an activated population after transcriptional induction of the IL-4 locus and differentiation into an IL-4-producing subset with Th2 characteristics. Memory lymphocytes derived from Th2 cells with IL-4 locus activation remained committed to transcriptional competence of Th2 cytokine genes when reactivated and cultured under strong Th1-polarizing conditions. This commitment to transcriptional competence at Th2 cytokine gene loci upon recall activation indicates that linear differentiation is a substantial component of type 2 memory. Strikingly, however, descendants of the Th2 population could turn on IFN-gamma expression when reactivated after a quiescent period, revealing an unexpected flexibility allowing activation of the forbidden IFN-gamma gene after reactivation and growth.

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