Most microbe-specific naïve CD4+ T cells produce memory cells during infection

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Science  29 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6272, pp. 511-514
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0483

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All T cells can remember

One of the hallmarks of adaptive immunity is that T and B lymphocytes “remember” previous infections, protecting the host from subsequent infections. When T cells respond to a pathogen, they proliferate, and a fraction of their progeny goes on to form long-lived memory cells. It is not clear whether all of the T cell clones that respond to the initial infection have the potential to form memory T cells. Tubo et al. used a single-cell adoptive transfer model in mice to answer this question. Nearly all T cell clones produced memory cells, which suggests that breadth is probably an important component of immunological memory.

Science, this issue p. 511


Infection elicits CD4+ memory T lymphocytes that participate in protective immunity. Although memory cells are the progeny of naïve T cells, it is unclear that all naïve cells from a polyclonal repertoire have memory cell potential. Using a single-cell adoptive transfer and spleen biopsy method, we found that in mice, essentially all microbe-specific naïve cells produced memory cells during infection. Different clonal memory cell populations had different B cell or macrophage helper compositions that matched effector cell populations generated much earlier in the response. Thus, each microbe-specific naïve CD4+ T cell produces a distinctive ratio of effector cell types early in the immune response that is maintained as some cells in the clonal population become memory cells.

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