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Expression of the transcription factor cKrox in peripheral CD8 T cells reveals substantial postthymic plasticity in CD4-CD8 lineage differentiation.

Authors
  • Jenkinson, S Rhiannon
  • Intlekofer, Andrew M
  • Sun, Guangping
  • Feigenbaum, Lionel
  • Reiner, Steven L
  • Bosselut, Rémy
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of experimental medicine
Publication Date
Feb 19, 2007
Volume
204
Issue
2
Pages
267–272
Identifiers
PMID: 17296789
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Most T cells belong to either of two lineages defined by the mutually exclusive expression of CD4 and CD8 coreceptors: CD4 T cells are major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II restricted and have helper function, whereas CD8 T cells are MHC I restricted and have cytotoxic function. The divergence between these two lineages occurs during intrathymic selection and is thought to be irreversible in mature T cells. It is, however, unclear whether the CD4-CD8 differentiation of postthymic T cells retains some level of plasticity or is stably maintained by mechanisms distinct from those that set lineage choice in the thymus. To address this issue, we examined if coreceptor or effector gene expression in mature CD8 T cells remains sensitive to the zinc finger transcription factor cKrox, which promotes CD4 and inhibits CD8 differentiation when expressed in thymocytes. We show that cKrox transduction into CD8 T cells inhibits their expression of CD8 and cytotoxic effector genes and impairs their cytotoxic activity, and that it promotes expression of helper-specific genes, although not of CD4 itself. These observations reveal a persistent degree of plasticity in CD4-CD8 differentiation in mature T cells.

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