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PLoS One. 2019 Feb 11;14(2):e0210495. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210495. eCollection 2019.

Comparative analysis reveals a role for TGF-β in shaping the residency-related transcriptional signature in tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne and The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
2
Cambridge Baker Systems Genomics Initiative, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
3
Cambridge Baker Systems Genomics Initiative, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
4
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
5
Department of Clinical Pathology and School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
6
The Alan Turing Institute, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Tissue-resident CD8+ memory T (TRM) cells are immune cells that permanently reside at tissue sites where they play an important role in providing rapid protection against reinfection. They are not only phenotypically and functionally distinct from their circulating memory counterparts, but also exhibit a unique transcriptional profile. To date, the local tissue signals required for their development and long-term residency are not well understood. So far, the best-characterised tissue-derived signal is transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), which has been shown to promote the development of these cells within tissues. In this study, we aimed to determine to what extent the transcriptional signatures of TRM cells from multiple tissues reflects TGF-β imprinting. We activated murine CD8+ T cells, stimulated them in vitro by TGF-β, and profiled their transcriptomes using RNA-seq. Upon comparison, we identified a TGF-β-induced signature of differentially expressed genes between TGF-β-stimulated and -unstimulated cells. Next, we linked this in vitro TGF-β-induced signature to a previously identified in vivo TRM-specific gene set and found considerable (>50%) overlap between the two gene sets, thus showing that a substantial part of the TRM signature can be attributed to TGF-β signalling. Finally, gene set enrichment analysis further revealed that the altered gene signature following TGF-β exposure reflected transcriptional signatures found in TRM cells from both epithelial and non-epithelial tissues. In summary, these findings show that TGF-β has a broad footprint in establishing the residency-specific transcriptional profile of TRM cells, which is detectable in TRM cells from diverse tissues. They further suggest that constitutive TGF-β signaling might be involved for their long-term persistence at tissue sites.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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