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Blood. 2009 Jun 25;113(26):6619-28. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-01-199588. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

KLRG1 signaling induces defective Akt (ser473) phosphorylation and proliferative dysfunction of highly differentiated CD8+ T cells.

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Department of Immunology, University College London, 46 Cleveland Street, London, United Kingdom.


Highly differentiated CD8+CD28-CD27- T cells have short telomeres, defective telomerase activity, and reduced capacity for proliferation, indicating that they are close to replicative senescence. In addition, these cells express increased levels of the senescence-associated inhibitory receptor KLRG1 and have poor capacity for IL-2 synthesis and defective Akt (ser(473)) phosphorylation after activation. It is not known whether signaling via KLRG1 contributes to any of the attenuated differentiation-related functional changes in CD8+ T cells. To address this, we blocked KLRG1 signaling during T-cell receptor activation using antibodies against its major ligand, E-cadherin. This resulted in a significant enhancement of Akt (ser(473)) phosphorylation and T-cell receptor-induced proliferative activity of CD8+CD28-CD27- T cells. Furthermore, the increase of proliferation was directly linked to the Akt-mediated induction of cyclin D and E and reduction in the cyclin inhibitor p27 expression. In contrast, the reduced telomerase activity in highly differentiated CD8+CD28(-)CD27- T cells was not altered by KLRG1 blockade, indicating the involvement of other mechanisms. This is the first demonstration of a functional role for KLRG1 in primary human CD8+ T cells and highlights that certain functional defects that arise during progressive T-cell differentiation toward replicative senescence are maintained actively by inhibitory receptor signaling.

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