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.
- Bcl6 (b-cell lymphoma 6)
- CD4 memory T-cell development
- Cognate interaction with non-GC B cells
- Memory B-cell recall response
- Stepwise transcriptional regulation
- T-follicular helper cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas