Biochemical signaling pathways for memory T cell recall

Semin Immunol. 2009 Apr;21(2):84-91. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2009.02.003.


Memory T cells exhibit low activation thresholds and rapid effector responses following antigen stimulation, contrasting naive T cells with high activation thresholds and no effector responses. Signaling mechanisms for the distinct properties of naive and memory T cells remain poorly understood. Here, I will discuss new results on signal transduction in naive and memory T cells that suggest proximal control of activation threshold and a distinct biochemical pathway to rapid recall. The signaling and transcriptional pathways controlling immediate effector function in memory T cells closely resemble pathways for rapid effector cytokine production in innate immune cells, suggesting memory T cells use innate pathways for efficacious responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD28 Antigens / immunology
  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Phospholipase C gamma / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation / immunology
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase / genetics
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase / immunology
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase / metabolism*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • CD28 Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • T-box transcription factor TBX21
  • ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Phospholipase C gamma