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Immunity. 2009 Aug 21;31(2):296-308. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.05.014. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Transcriptional repressor Blimp-1 promotes CD8(+) T cell terminal differentiation and represses the acquisition of central memory T cell properties.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


During acute infections, a small population of effector CD8(+) T cells evades terminal differentiation and survives as long-lived memory T cells. We demonstrate that the transcriptional repressor Blimp-1 enhanced the formation of terminally differentiated CD8(+) T cells during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection, and Blimp-1 deficiency promoted the acquisition of memory cell properties by effector cells. Blimp-1 expression was preferentially increased in terminally differentiated effector and "effector memory" (Tem) CD8(+) T cells, and gradually decayed after infection as central memory (Tcm) cells developed. Blimp-1-deficient effector CD8(+) T cells showed some reduction in effector molecule expression, but primarily developed into memory precursor cells that survived better and more rapidly acquired several Tcm cell attributes, including CD62L and IL-2 expression and enhanced proliferative responses. These results reveal a critical role for Blimp-1 in controlling terminal differentiation and suppressing memory cell developmental potential in effector CD8(+) T cells during viral infection.

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