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    Memory CD4(+) T cells promote protective humoral immunity; however, how memory T cells acquire this activity remains unclear. This study demonstrates that CD4(+) T cells develop into antigen-specific memory T cells that can promote the terminal differentiation of memory B cells far more effectively than their naive T-cell counterparts. Memory T cell development requires the transcription factor B-cell lymphoma 6 (Bcl6), which is known to direct T-follicular helper (Tfh) cell differentiation. However, unlike Tfh cells, memory T cell development did not require germinal center B cells. Curiously, memory T cells that develop in the absence of cognate B cells cannot promote memory B-cell recall responses and this defect was accompanied by down-regulation of genes associated with homeostasis and activation and up-regulation of genes inhibitory for T-cell responses. Although memory T cells display phenotypic and genetic signatures distinct from Tfh cells, both had in common the expression of a group of genes associated with metabolic pathways. This gene expression profile was not shared to any great extent with naive T cells and was not influenced by the absence of cognate B cells during memory T cell development. These results suggest that memory T cell development is programmed by stepwise expression of gatekeeper genes through serial interactions with different types of antigen-presenting cells, first licensing the memory lineage pathway and subsequently facilitating the functional development of memory T cells. Finally, we identified Gdpd3 as a candidate genetic marker for memory T cells. © The Japanese Society for Immunology. 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Tomohiro Kaji, Atsushi Hijikata, Akiko Ishige, Toshimori Kitami, Takashi Watanabe, Osamu Ohara, Noriyuki Yanaka, Mariko Okada, Michiko Shimoda, Masaru Taniguchi, Toshitada Takemori. CD4 memory T cells develop and acquire functional competence by sequential cognate interactions and stepwise gene regulation. International immunology. 2016 Jun;28(6):267-82

    PMID: 26714588

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