Leube and Mühlbauer et al. adoptively transferred either 100 unlabeled OT-I cells or up to 8 single, trackable OT-I cells into mice, then exposed them to Listeria monocytogenes expressing either the SIINFEKL peptide (high affinity) or altered peptide ligands (medium or low affinity). Using single-cell in vivo fate mapping and high throughput flow cytometric enrichment, they found that a majority of high-affinity, but only a small portion of available low-affinity antigen-specific T cells were recruited, with the rest ignoring the priming antigen and persisting in a naive state, remaining fully responsive to subsequent challenge with a high-affinity ligand.
Contributed by Lauren Hitchings
ABSTRACT: T cell ignorance is a specific form of immunological tolerance. It describes the maintenance of naivety in antigen-specific T cells in vivo despite the presence of their target antigen. It is thought to mainly play a role during the steady state, when self-antigens are presented in absence of costimulatory signals and at low density or to T cells of low affinity. In how far antigen-specific T cells can also remain clonally ignorant to foreign antigens, presented in the inflammatory context of systemic infection, remains unclear. Using single-cell in vivo fate mapping and high throughput flow cytometric enrichment, we find that high-affinity antigen- specific CD8(+) T cells are efficiently recruited upon systemic infection. In contrast, most low- affinity antigen-specific T cells ignore the priming antigen and persist in the nave state while remaining fully responsive to subsequent immunization with a high-affinity ligand. These data establish the widespread clonal ignorance of low-affinity T cells as a major factor shaping the composition of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cell responses to systemic infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.