Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


In first moments of infection, a division and a decision


UC San Diego scientists explain how and when T cells become effector or memory lymphocytes

Using technologies and computational modeling that trace the destiny of single cells, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine describe for the first time the earliest stages of fate determination among white blood cells called T lymphocytes, providing new insights that may help drug developers create more effective, longer-lasting vaccines against microbial pathogens or cancer.

T Lymphocyte

This is the T lymphocyte.

Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The findings are published in the March 2, 2014 online issue of Nature Immunology.

Naïve T lymphocytes patrol the front lines of the human body’s defense against infection, circulating in blood and tissues, searching for invasive microbes and other foreign antigens. They’re called “naïve” because they have not yet encountered an invader. When they do, these T cells activate and divide, giving rise to two types of daughter cells: “effector lymphocytes” responsible for immediate host defense and “memory lymphocytes” that provide long-term protection from similar infections.

“Researchers have been trying for a very long time to understand when and how T lymphocytes give rise to effector and memory cells during an infection,” said John T. Chang, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and the study’s co-principal investigator, along with Gene W. Yeo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Institute for Genomic Medicine.

However, all studies up to this point were based on analyses on bulk populations of cells, making it impossible to understand fate decisions made by individual cells. First authors Janilyn Arsenio, a postdoctoral fellow in the Chang lab and Boyko Kakaradov, a graduate student in the Yeo lab and UCSD Bioinformatics graduate program said that they took advantage of recent technological advances in single-cell gene expression profiling and cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms to address this question on a level of detail that was not previously possible.

Chang, Yeo and colleagues discovered that the decision by an individual T cell to produce effector and memory cells is made almost at the moment of infection. “The ‘mother’ lymphocyte seems to divide into two daughter cells that are already different from birth,” said Chang, “with one becoming an effector cell while its sister becomes a memory cell.”

Chang noted that the primary purpose of vaccines is to produce strong and durable immune protection, which depends heavily upon generation of memory lymphocytes. “Our work suggests that the way T lymphocytes divide early during a microbial infection might be critical to whether or not they give rise to long-lived memory cells. Strategies that improve this process could potentially enhance durable immunity and help us to design more effective vaccines.”


Co-authors of the study include Janilyn Arsenio, Patrick J. Metz and Stephanie H. Kim, UCSD Department of Medicine; Boyko Kakaradov, UCSD Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, UCSD Stem Cell and Bioinformatics programs and Institute for Genomic Medicine, UCSD; and Gene W. Yeo, UCSD Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, UCSD Stem Cell and Bioinformatics programs and Institute for Genomic Medicine, UCSD and National University of Singapore and Genome Institute of Singapore.

Funding for this research came, in part, from National Institutes of Health (grants DK080949, OD008469, AI095277, HG004659 and NS075449), UCSD Digestive Diseases Research Development Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Media contact: Scott LaFee, 619-543-6163,

Scott LaFee | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Bioinformatics Cellular Medicine Molecular Stem UCSD blood lymphocytes microbial vaccines

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Laboratory study: Scientists from Cologne explore a new approach to prevent newborn epilepsies
24.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)

nachricht U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences
23.11.2015 | University of Toronto

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

Im Focus: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Siemens Healthcare introduces the Cios family of mobile C-arms

20.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens offers concrete solution portfolio for Industrie 4.0 with Digital Enterprise

24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Compact, rugged, three-phase power supplies for worldwide use

24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Sensor sees nerve action as it happens

24.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>