Normal T cell homeostasis: the conversion of naive cells into memory-phenotype cells

Nat Immunol. 2011 Jun;12(6):478-84. doi: 10.1038/ni.2018.


Weak T cell antigen receptor (TCR) signals from contact with self ligands act in synergy with antiapoptotic signals induced by interleukin 7 (IL-7) to promote the survival of naive T cells in a resting state. The amount of background TCR signaling in naive T cells is set by post-thymic TCR tuning and operates at an intensity just below that required to induce entry into the cell cycle. Costimulation from higher concentrations of IL-7 and other common γ-chain cytokines can induce T cells to undergo homeostatic proliferation and conversion into cells with a memory phenotype; many of these memory phenotype cells may be the progeny of cells responding to self antigens. The molecular mechanisms that control the conversion of naive resting T cells into memory-phenotype cells TCR-dependent in normal animals are beginning to be understood.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Interleukin-7 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-7 / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Interleukin-7
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell