CD69: from activation marker to metabolic gatekeeper

Eur J Immunol. 2017 Jun;47(6):946-953. doi: 10.1002/eji.201646837.


CD69 is a membrane-bound, type II C-lectin receptor. It is a classical early marker of lymphocyte activation due to its rapid appearance on the surface of the plasma membrane after stimulation. CD69 is expressed by several subsets of tissue resident immune cells, including resident memory T (TRM) cells and gamma delta (γδ) T cells, and is therefore considered a marker of tissue retention. Recent evidence has revealed that CD69 regulates some specific functions of selected T-cell subsets, determining the migration-retention ratio as well as the acquisition of effector or regulatory phenotypes. Specifically, CD69 regulates the differentiation of regulatory T (Treg) cells as well as the secretion of IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-22. The identification of putative CD69 ligands, such as Galectin-1 (Gal-1), suggests that CD69-induced signaling can be regulated not only during cognate contacts between T cells and antigen-presenting cells in lymphoid organs, but also in the periphery, where cytokines and other metabolites control the final outcome of the immune response. Here, we will discuss new aspects of the molecular signaling mediated by CD69 and its involvement in the metabolic reprogramming regulating TH-effector lineages.

Keywords: CD69; Galectin-1; LAT1; Metabolism; S1P1; T cells; mTOR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / physiology
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Galectins / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / physiology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Galectins
  • Interleukin-17
  • Lectins, C-Type