News of the WeekImmunology

Memory T Cells Don't Need Practice

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1267a

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Two reports in this week's issue of Science (pp. 1377 and 1381) bolster the notion that immune cells never forget. The immune cells in question are T cells, which spring into action to kill infected cells or orchestrate other immune responses when other cells "present" them with an appropriate antigen, together with a so-called MHC protein. The new work shows that memory T cells don't need to repeat this experience: They persist and maintain their ability to recognize their specific antigens, even when put into mice that have been genetically altered to eliminate the MHC proteins, which makes antigen presentation impossible.