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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Jul;39(7):1774-83. doi: 10.1002/eji.200839093.

Effector T-cell differentiation during viral and bacterial infections: Role of direct IL-12 signals for cell fate decision of CD8(+) T cells.

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Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Department of Immunology, University of Freiburg, Germany.


To study the role of IL-12 as a third signal for T-cell activation and differentiation in vivo, direct IL-12 signaling to CD8(+) T cells was analyzed in bacterial and viral infections using the P14 T-cell adoptive transfer model with CD8(+) T cells that lack the IL-12 receptor. Results indicate that CD8(+) T cells deficient in IL-12 signaling were impaired in clonal expansion after Listeria monocytogenes infection but not after infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, vaccinia virus or vesicular stomatitis virus. Although limited in clonal expansion after Listeria infection, CD8(+) T cells deficient in IL-12 signaling exhibited normal degranulation activity, cytolytic functions, and secretion of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha. However, CD8(+) T cells lacking IL-12 signaling failed to up-regulate KLRG1 and to down-regulate CD127 in the context of Listeria but not viral infections. Thus, direct IL-12 signaling to CD8(+) T cells determines the cell fate decision between short-lived effector cells and memory precursor effector cells, which is dependent on pathogen-induced local cytokine milieu.

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