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J Immunol. 2013 Jan 1;190(1):174-83. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201685. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

SLAT regulates CD8+ T cell clonal expansion in a Cdc42- and NFAT1-dependent manner.

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Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


After antigenic stimulation, CD8(+) T cells undergo clonal expansion and differentiation into CTLs that can mount a strong defense against intracellular pathogens and tumors. SWAP-70-like adapter of T cells (SLAT), also known as Def6, is a novel guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the Cdc42 GTPase and plays a role in CD4(+) T cell activation and Th cell differentiation by controlling Ca(2+)/NFAT signaling, but its requirement in CD8(+) T cell response has not been explored. Using a range of transgenic and knockout in vivo systems, we show that SLAT is required for efficient expansion of CD8(+) T cells during the primary response but is not necessary for CTL differentiation. The reduced clonal expansion observed in the absence of SLAT resulted from a CD8(+) T cell-intrinsic proliferation defect and a reduced IL-2-dependent cell survival. On a molecular level, we show that Def6 deficiency resulted in defective TCR/CD28-induced NFAT translocation to the nucleus in CD8(+) T cells. Constitutively active Cdc42 or NFAT1 mutants fully restored the impaired expansion of Def6(-/-) CD8(+) T cells. Taken together, these data describe a new and pivotal role of SLAT-mediated NFAT activation in CD8(+) T cells, providing new insight into the signaling pathways involved in CD8(+) T cell proliferation.

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