Cd8+ t cell self-tolerance permits responsiveness but limits tissue damage

Emily Nestor Truckenbrod, Kristina S. Burrack, Todd P. Knutson, Henrique Borges da Silva, Katharine E. Block, Stephen D. O'flanagan, Katie R. Stagliano, Arthur A. Hurwitz, Ross B. Fulton, Kristin R. Renkema, Stephen C. Jameson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-specific CD8+ T cells can escape clonal deletion, but the properties and capabilities of such cells in a physiological setting are unclear. We characterized polyclonal CD8+ T cells specific for the melanocyte antigen tyrosinase-related protein 2 (Trp2) in mice expressing or lacking this enzyme (due to deficiency in Dct, which encodes Trp2). Phenotypic and gene expression profiles of pre-immune Trp2/Kb-specific cells were similar; the size of this population was only slightly reduced in wild-type (WT) compared to Dct-deficient (Dct-/-) mice. Despite comparable initial responses to Trp2 immunization, WT Trp2/Kb-specific cells showed blunted expansion and less readily differentiated into a CD25+ proliferative population. Functional self-tolerance clearly emerged when assessing immunopathology: adoptively transferred WT Trp2/Kb-specific cells mediated vitiligo much less efficiently. Hence, CD8+ T cell self-specificity is poorly predicted by precursor frequency, phenotype or even initial responsiveness, while deficient activation-induced CD25 expression and other gene expression characteristics may help to identify functionally tolerant cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere65615
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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