Dendritic cells signal T cells in the absence of exogenous antigen

Nat Immunol. 2001 Oct;2(10):932-8. doi: 10.1038/ni711.


Interactions with self-major histocompatibility complex molecules on dendritic cells (DCs) are important for the survival of mature CD4+ T cells. We have followed the DC-mediated signal from the T cell surface to the nucleus and identified a pattern of activation that correlates with increased in vitro survival. This response is induced exclusively by DCs and is likely associated with a modulation of the T cell activation threshold. We have also found that DC-mediated activation results in antigen-independent cytokine gene expression, which points to a new role for DCs in shaping the cytokine milieu. Such antigen-independent activation of T cells may play a role in protective immunity, but may also induce and perpetuate autoimmune states such as multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clone Cells
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Interleukin / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12
  • Signal Transduction*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase


  • Antigens
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Interleukin
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase
  • ZAP70 protein, human