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Science  24 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5939, pp. 369
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_369d

In response to infection, CD4+ T cells differentiate into distinct effector subsets, which include T helper type 1 (TH1), TH2, TH17, and regulatory T cells. How do naïve T cells choose? The cells that present major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II–bound antigens to T cells also deliver cues in the form of secreted cytokines that initiate lineage-specific differentiation programs. It has long been thought that dendritic cells are the bearers of this information, yet previous studies had found a limited activation of dendritic cells in response to TH2-inducing antigens and a lack of interleukin-4, which is the cytokine critical for directing TH2 cell differentiation.

Basophil (blue) expressing interleukin-4 (green) and MHC II (red).CREDIT: PERRIGOUE AND YOSHIMOTO

Perrigoue et al., Yoshimoto et al., and Sokol et al. show that for TH2 CD4+ T cells—which mediate responses to parasitic helminths, protease allergens, and allergy-inducing immune complexes—basophils, rather than dendritic cells, are the antigen-presenting cells that initiate TH2 cell responses in mice. These studies push basophils into the limelight and will potentially lead to further understanding of allergic reactions.

Nat. Immunol. 10, 697; 706; 713 (2009).

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