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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15818-23. Epub 2003 Dec 12.

Antigen-driven effector CD8 T cell function regulated by T-bet.

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Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Type 1 immunity relies on the differentiation of two major subsets of T lymphocytes, the CD4+ T helper (Th) cell and the CD8+ cytotoxic T cell, that direct inflammatory and cytotoxic responses essential for the destruction of intracellular and extracellular pathogens. In contrast to CD4 cells, little is known about transcription factors that control the transition from the CD8 naïve to effector cell stage. Here, we report that the transcription factor T-bet, known to regulate Th cell differentiation, also controls the generation of the CD8+ cytotoxic effector cell. Antigen-driven generation of effector CD8+ cells was impaired in OT-I T cell receptor transgenic mice lacking T-bet, resulting in diminished cytotoxicity and a marked shift in cytokine secretion profiles. Furthermore, mice lacking T-bet responded poorly to infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. T-bet is a key player in the generation of type 1 immunity, in both Th and T cytotoxic cells.

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