Memory CD4 T cells emerge from effector T-cell progenitors

Academic Article


  • A hallmark of adaptive immunity is the generation of memory T cells that confer long-lived, antigen-specific protection against repeat challenges by pathogens. Understanding the mechanisms by which memory T cells arise is important for rational vaccination strategies and improved therapeutic interventions for chronic infections and autoimmune disorders. The large clonal expansion of CD8 T cells in response to some infections has made the development of CD8 T-cell memory more amenable to study, giving rise to a model of memory cell differentiation in which a fraction of fully competent effector T cells transition into long-lived memory T cells. Delineation of CD4 T-cell memory development has proved more difficult as a result of limitations on tracking the smaller populations of CD4 effector T cells generated during a pathogenic challenge, complicating efforts to determine whether CD4 memory T cells are direct descendants of effector T cells or whether they develop by alternative pathways. Here, using two complementary cytokine reporter mouse models to identify interferon (IFN)-γ-positive effector T cells and track their fate, we show that the lineage relationship between effector and memory CD4 T cells resembles that for CD8 T cells responding to the same pathogen. We find that, in parallel with effector CD8 T cells, IFN-γ-positive effector CD4 T cells give rise to long-lived memory T cells capable of anamnestic responses to antigenic rechallenge. ©2008 Nature Publishing Group.
  • Published In

  • Nature  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harrington LE; Janowski KM; Oliver JR; Zajac AJ; Weaver CT
  • Start Page

  • 356
  • End Page

  • 360
  • Volume

  • 452
  • Issue

  • 7185