The contribution of different DC subsets to effector and memory CD8(+) T cell generation during infection and the mechanism by which DCs controls these fate decisions is unclear. Here we demonstrated that the CD103(+) and CD11b(hi) migratory respiratory DC (RDC) subsets after influenza virus infection activated naive virus-specific CD8(+) T cells differentially. CD103(+) RDCs supported the generation of CD8(+) T effector (Teff) cells, which migrate from lymph nodes to the infected lungs. In contrast, migrant CD11b(hi) RDCs activated CD8(+) T cells characteristic of central memory CD8(+) T (CD8(+) Tcm) cells including retention within the draining lymph nodes. CD103(+) RDCs expressed CD24 at an elevated level, contributing to the propensity of this DC subpopulation to support CD8(+) Teff cell differentiation. Mechanistically, CD24 was shown to regulate CD8(+) T cell activation through HMGB1-mediated engagement of T cell RAGE. Thus, there is distribution of labor among DC subsets in regulating CD8(+) T cell differentiation.
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