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J Immunol. 2010 May 15;184(10):5604-11. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000109. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

Self-specific CD8+ T cells maintain a semi-naive state following lymphopenia-induced proliferation.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Center for Immunology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA.


Upon transfer into T cell-deficient hosts, naive CD8(+) T cells typically undergo lymphopenia-induced proliferation (LIP, also called homeostatic proliferation) and develop the phenotypic and functional characteristics of memory CD8(+) T cells. However, the capacity of T cells with self-peptide/MHC specificity to respond in this way has not been intensively studied. We examined pmel-1 TCR transgenic CD8(+) T cells that are specific for an epitope from gp100, a protein expressed by melanoma cells and normal melanocytes. Despite their self-specificity, naive pmel-1 cells were inefficient at LIP in typical lymphopenic hosts. In CD132 (common gamma-chain)-deficient hosts, pmel-1 CD8(+) T cells underwent extensive proliferation, but, surprisingly, the majority of these cells retained certain naive phenotypic traits (CD44(low), CD122(low)) rather than acquiring the expected central-memory phenotype. Following LIP, pmel-1 T cells acquired the capacity to control B16F10 tumor growth, but only in common gamma-chain-deficient host mice. Together, these data suggest that LIP does not always favor expansion of self-specific CD8 T cells and that sustained extensive lymphopenia is required for such cells to exhibit tumor control.

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