Memory CD8+ T cell differentiation: initial antigen encounter triggers a developmental program in naïve cells

Nat Immunol. 2001 May;2(5):415-22. doi: 10.1038/87720.


The rules that govern memory T cell differentiation are not well understood. This study shows that after antigenic stimulation naïve CD8+ T cells become committed to dividing at least seven times and differentiating into effector and memory cells. Once the parental naïve CD8+ T cell had been activated, this developmental process could not be interrupted and the daughter cells continued to divide and differentiate in the absence of further antigenic stimulation. These data indicate that initial antigen encounter triggers an instructive developmental program that does not require further antigenic stimulation and does not cease until memory CD8+ T cell formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • H-2 Antigens / genetics
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Immunological
  • Thy-1 Antigens / genetics


  • H-2 Antigens
  • Interleukin-2
  • Thy-1 Antigens