Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mature T cells can switch function to better tackle infection

21.01.2013
Helper cells of the immune system can switch to become killer cells in the gut

The fate of mature T lymphocytes might be a lot more flexible than previously thought. New research from the RIKEN Center for Allergy and Immunology (RCAI) in Japan and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LIAI) in the USA shows for the first time that mature CD4+ helper T lymphocytes can be re-programed to become killer-like CD8+ T lymphocytes and gain killing functions.

The findings are reported today in the journal Nature Immunology, by a team of researchers led by Ichiro Taniuchi from RIKEN and Hilde Cheroutre from La Jolla. The team show using transgenic mice that mature CD4+ helper T lymphocytes that have lost the transcription factor ThPOK express genes specific to CD8+ killer T lymphocytes upon exposure to a specific environmental stimulation such as the gut. This turns them into killer cells that might act to control infection.

CD4+ helper T lymphocytes and CD8+ killer T lymphocytes are important players in the body's defense mechanism against infection. CD4+ helper T lymphocytes normally only assist other cells of the immune system during an infection, whereas CD8+ killer T cells are the main actors in the elimination of infected cells.

Both types of cells are generated in the thymus, where their early precursors develop first into cells bearing both CD4 and CD8 markers. These CD4+ CD8+ cells then differentiate into cells bearing either the CD4 or CD8 marker and take on either a helper (CD4+) or killer (CD8+) fate.

The transcription factor ThPOK is known to play a crucial role in the fate determination of T lymphocytes in the thymus. It represses genes specific to CD8+ cells in precursors of helper T cells and prevents these cells from differentiating into CD8+ killer cells. The expression of ThPOK continues in mature CD4+ helper T cells and is repressed in mature CD8+ cells.

In the study, Taniuchi, Cheroutre and colleagues show that upon deactivation of ThPOK, mature CD4+ T cells revert back to bearing both CD4 and CD8 markers in the mouse intestine. By analyzing RNA extracted from ThPOK-negative CD4+ CD8+ cells, the researchers demonstrate that the cells express various CD8+ cell-specific genes encoding for cytolitic proteins and that they have effectively differentiated into CD8+ killer T cells.

The authors conclude: "The unexpected plasticity of mature CD4+ T cells to differentiate into CD8+ cytolitic cells expands the functional capabilities of CD4+ T cells. It is possible that CD4+ T cells are also involved in direct protective functions and provide the immune system with an alternative protective mechanism."

According to them, these cells may be recruited to help in the immune response at interfaces such as the skin or mucosae, where the rapid elimination of infected cells is crucial.

Reference

Taniuchi, I. Cheroutre, H. et al. "Transcriptional reprogramming of mature CD4+ helper T cells generates distinct MHC class II–restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes." Nature Immunology, 2013, DOI: 10.1038/ni.2523

About RIKEN

RIKEN is Japan's flagship research institute devoted to basic and applied research. Over 2500 papers by RIKEN researchers are published every year in reputable scientific and technical journals, covering topics ranging across a broad spectrum of disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, medical science and engineering. RIKEN's advanced research environment and strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration has earned itself an unparalleled reputation for scientific excellence in Japan and around the world.

Website: http://www.riken.jp/
Find us on Twitter at: @rikenresearch
For more information about the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology please visit: http://www.rcai.riken.jp/english/

Juliette Savin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Are there sustainable solutions in dealing with dwindling phosphorus resources?
16.10.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Nutzierbiologie (FBN)

nachricht Strange undertakings: ant queens bury dead to prevent disease
13.10.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>