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 Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption
07.10.2015 | Universitätsklinikum Freiburg

nachricht Older patients recover more slowly from concussion
06.10.2015 | Radiological Society of North America

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: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

NASA provides an infrared look at Hurricane Joaquin over time

08.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Theoretical computer science provides answers to data privacy problem

08.10.2015 | Information Technology

Stellar desk in wave-like motion

08.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>