Date of Graduation

5-2010

Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Immunology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Krishna V. Komanduri

Committee Member

Bradley W. McIntyre

Committee Member

David McConkey

Committee Member

Prahlad Ram

Committee Member

Qing Ma

Abstract

While prior studies have focused on naïve (CD45RA+CD27+) and early stage memory (CD45RA-CD27+) CD8+ T cells, late memory CD8+ T cells (CD45RA+CD27) have received less interest because this subset of T cells is generally recognized as effectors, which produce IFNγ (but no IL-2) and perforin. However, multiple studies suggest that late memory CD8+ T cells may provide inadequate protection in infectious diseases and cancer models.

To better understand the unique function of late memory CD8+ T cells, I optimized multi-color flow cytometry techniques to assess the cytokine production of each human CD8+ T cell maturation subset. I demonstrated that late memory CD8+ T cells are the predominant producer of CC chemokines (e.g. MIP-1β), but rarely produce IL-2; therefore they do not co-produce IL-2/IFNγ (polyfunctionality), which has been shown to be critical for protective immunity against chronic viral infection. These data suggest that late memory CD8+ T cells are not just cytotoxic effectors, but may have unique functional properties.

Determining the molecular signature of each CD8+ T cell maturation subset will help characterize the role of late memory CD8+ T cells. Prior studies suggest that ERK1 and ERK2 play a role in cytokine production including IL-2 in T cells. Therefore, I tested whether differential expression of ERK1 and ERK2 in CD8+ T cell maturation subsets contributes to their functional signature by a novel flow cytometry technique. I found that the expression of total ERK1, but not ERK2, is significantly diminished in late memory CD8+ T cells and that ERK1 expression is strongly associated with IL-2 production and CD28 expression. I also found that IL-2 production is increased in late memory CD8+ T cells by over-expressing ERK1. Collectively, these data suggest that ERK1 is required for IL-2 production in human CD8+ T cells.

In summary, this dissertation demonstrated that ERK1 is down-regulated in human late memory CD8+ T cells, leading to decreased production of IL-2. The data in this dissertation also suggested that the functional heterogeneity in human CD8+ T cell maturation subsets results from their differential ERK1 expression.

Keywords

Human, CD8, T cell, activation, chemokine, cytokine, ERK1, ERK2, IL-2, GVHD