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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42268. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042268. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

TGF-β sensitivity restrains CD8+ T cell homeostatic proliferation by enforcing sensitivity to IL-7 and IL-15.

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Lab Medicine and Pathology, Center for Immunology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America.


The pleiotropic cytokine TGF-β has been implicated in the regulation of numerous aspects of the immune response, including naïve T cell homeostasis. Previous studies found that impairing TGF-β responsiveness (through expression of a dominant-negative TGF-β RII [DNRII] transgene) leads to accumulation of memory phenotype CD8 T cells, and it was proposed that this resulted from enhanced IL-15 sensitivity. Here we show naïve DNRII CD8 T cells exhibit enhanced lymphopenia-driven proliferation and generation of "homeostatic" memory cells. However, this enhanced response occurred in the absence of IL-15 and, unexpectedly, even in the combined absence of IL-7 and IL-15, which were thought essential for CD8 T cell homeostatic expansion. DNRII transgenic CD8 T cells still require access to self Class I MHC for homeostatic proliferation, arguing against generalized dysregulation of homeostatic cues. These findings suggest TGF-β responsiveness is critical for enforcing sensitivity to homeostatic cytokines that limit maintenance and composition of the CD8 T cell pool. (154 words).

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