The tetraspanin CD151 marks a unique population of activated human T cells

Academic Article


  • Tetraspanins are a family of proteins with an array of functions that are well studied in cancer biology, but their importance in immunology is underappreciated. Here we establish the tetraspanin CD151 as a unique marker of T-cell activation and, in extension, an indicator of elevated, systemic T-cell activity. Baseline CD151 expression found on a subset of T-cells was indicative of increased activation of the MAPK pathway. Following TCR/CD3 activation, CD151 expression was upregulated on the overall T-cell population, a quintessential feature of an activation marker. CD151+ T-cell frequencies in the spleen, an organ with increased immune activity, were twice as high as in paired peripheral blood samples. This CD151+ T-cell frequency increase was not paralleled by an increase of CD25 or CD38, demonstrating that CD151 expression is regulated independently of other T-cell activation markers. CD151+ T-cells were also more likely to express preformed granzyme B, suggesting that CD151+ T cells are pro-inflammatory. To this end, HIV-1 patients on antiretroviral therapy who are reported to exhibit chronically elevated levels of immune activity, had significantly higher CD4+CD151+ T-cell frequencies than healthy controls, raising the possibility that proinflammatory CD151+ T cells could contribute to the premature immunological aging phenotype observed in these patients.
  • Published In

  • Scientific Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Perez MD; Seu L; Lowman KE; Moylan DC; Tidwell C; Samuel S; Duverger A; Wagner FH; Carlin E; Sharma V
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 1