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J Immunol. 2011 May 15;186(10):5749-57. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002825. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

MHC class II-restricted interaction between thymocytes plays an essential role in the production of innate CD8+ T cells.

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Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 110-799 Seoul, Korea.


We have recently shown that MHC class II-dependent thymocyte-thymocyte (T-T) interaction successfully generates CD4(+) T cells (T-T CD4(+) T cells), and that T-T CD4(+) T cells expressing promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger protein (PLZF) show an innate property both in mice and humans. In this article, we report that the thymic T-T interaction is essential for the conversion of CD8(+) T cells into innate phenotype in the physiological condition. CD8(+) T cells developed in the presence of PLZF(+) CD4(+) T cells showed marked upregulation of eomesodermin (Eomes), activation/memory phenotype, and rapid production of IFN-γ on ex vivo stimulation. Their development was highly dependent on the PLZF expression in T-T CD4(+) T cells and the IL-4 secreted by PLZF(+) T-T CD4(+) T cells. The same events may take place in humans, as a substantial number of Eomes expressing innate CD8(+) T cells were found in human fetal thymi and spleens. It suggests that PLZF(+) T-T CD4(+) T cells in combination with Eomes(+) CD8(+) T cells might actively participate in the innate immune response against various pathogens, particularly in human perinatal period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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