Rapid culling of the CD4+ T cell repertoire in the transition from effector to memory

Immunity. 2008 Apr;28(4):533-45. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.02.014. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Requirements for CD4+ T cell memory differentiation were analyzed with adoptively transferred SMARTA T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic cells specific for alymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) epitope. LCMV-induced effector and memory differentiation of SMARTA cells mimicked the endogenous CD4+ T cell response. In contrast, infection with a recombinant Listeria expressing the LCMV epitope, although resulting initially in massive SMARTA expansion, led to loss of effector function and rapid cell death characterized by high expression of the apoptosis regulator Bim. Defective memory differentiation was seen after stimulation of naive but not memory SMARTA cells, was independent of precursor frequency, and correlated with a lower TCR avidity compared to endogenous responders. In addition, long-lived endogenous CD4+ memory T cells skewed to a higher functional avidity over time. These results support a model in which CD4+ T cell memory differentiation and longevity depend on the strength of the TCR signal during the primary response.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / transplantation
  • Cell Adhesion / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cricetinae
  • Immunologic Memory* / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Vero Cells


  • Interleukin-2
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma