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Blood. 2009 May 7;113(19):4575-85. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-10-185223. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

The molecular signature of CD8+ T cells undergoing deletional tolerance.

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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Australia.


Peripheral tolerance induction is critical for the maintenance of self-tolerance and can be mediated by immunoregulatory T cells or by direct induction of T-cell anergy or deletion. Although the molecular processes underlying anergy have been extensively studied, little is known about the molecular basis for peripheral T-cell deletion. Here, we determined the gene expression signature of peripheral CD8(+) T cells undergoing deletional tolerance, relative to those undergoing immunogenic priming or lymphopenia-induced proliferation. From these data, we report the first detailed molecular signature of cells undergoing deletion. Consistent with defective cytolysis, these cells exhibited deficiencies in granzyme up-regulation. Furthermore, they showed antigen-driven Bcl-2 down-regulation and early up-regulation of the proapoptotic protein Bim, consistent with the requirement of this BH3-only protein for peripheral T-cell deletion. Bim up-regulation was paralleled by defective interleukin-7 receptor alpha (IL-7Ralpha) chain reexpression, suggesting that Bim-dependent death may be triggered by loss of IL-7/IL-7R signaling. Finally, we observed parallels in molecular signatures between deletion and anergy, suggesting that these tolerance pathways may not be as molecularly distinct as previously surmised.

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