Memory T Cell Development in the Absence of Specific Antigen Priming

William T. Lee, Jocelyn Cole-Calkins, Nancy E. Street

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have shown that memory T cell development is Ag dependent and specific. In the present study, we show that memory responses can be made against an Ag to which there has been no prior exposure. In unimmunized DO11.10 mice, which carry α and β transgenes that encode a TCR specific for OVA, CD45RBlow memory cells express the transgenic TCR. These cells can be stimulated by OVA to proliferate and perform typical memory functions, such as secrete diverse lymphokines and provide cognate help to B cells, despite the fact that the mice were never exposed to OVA. Thus, memory cells can be generated in the absence of specific Ag. The data also demonstrate that the transgenic TCR-bearing memory T cells possess endogenous TCR α-chains, which permit the expression of a second TCR. In DO11.10/RAG-/- mice, the endogenous α-chains are eliminated, and the T cells can only express the transgenic TCR. In these mice, no memory cells were observed. Thus, it is the additional TCR that appears to drive memory cell generation. Once induced, memory function may be triggered through the transgenic receptor. Since dual TCR-bearing cells have been shown to exist in nontransgenic mice and humans, our results provide evidence that one mechanism for the maintenance of memory responses to a specific Ag is through stimulation of the second TCR by another Ag. Further, these findings have important implications for understanding aberrant immune responses, such as those that occur in autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5300-5307
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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