Memory T-cell responses are faster and more robust than those of their naïve counterparts. The mechanisms by which memory T cells respond better to subsequent antigenic exposure remain unresolved. A portion of the more rapid response is undoubtedly the result of the increased frequency of antigen-specific cells. In addition, there are also differences in the cells themselves with respect to their requirements for costimulation and the apparent avidity of the T cells. We used major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I tetramers to stimulate T cells to focus on the interaction of T-cell receptor (TCR)/MHC and CD8 in the absence of other molecules that are present on cell surfaces and so contribute to the activation of T cells by undefined mechanisms. Mutated MHC class I tetramers that are unable to engage CD8 were used to investigate the role of CD8 engagement in memory cell activation. Either wild-type tetramers or tetramers carrying the mutation were used to stimulate both memory and naïve TCR transgenic T cells in vitro. Surprisingly, like naïve cells, memory CD8+ T cells required CD8 engagement for calcium mobilization and optimum proliferation. In contrast, the requirements for cytokine production differed. Unlike naive cells, memory cells were able to produce cytokine in the absence of CD8 engagement. This suggests both a CD8-dependent pathway for early events and a CD8-independent pathway for cytokine production in memory cells.
- CD8 coreceptor
- Major histocompatibility complex tetramer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy