A neighborhood watch upholds local immune protection

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259925

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“Memory” T cells are “antigen-experienced” cells that are generated during a prior infection. Capable of migrating through extra-lymphoid regions of the body (1), they are poised to mount a swift and strong response when they next recognize the pathogen. The description of effector memory T cells (TEM) built on this notion (2), and by extension, peripheral immunity was thought to rely extensively on TEM cell recruitment from blood to extra-lymphoid tissues such as the gut and skin. Nevertheless, recent attention has turned to memory T cells that permanently reside in the periphery, with little or no representation in the wider circulation. These “tissue-resident” memory T cells (TRM) are more effective in controlling peripheral infection than their circulating counterparts (3). On pages 93, 98, and 101 of this issue, Iijima and Iwasaki (4), Schenkel et al. (5), and Ariotti et al. (6), respectively, probe the mechanistic underpinnings of the persistence and protective function of tissue-resident memory T cells.