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One Receptor Antigen Directs Development of Two T-Cell Types

Nov 4, 2016 11:05:02 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD

TCR develops two different T Cell types.T-cell receptors (TCRs) are membrane proteins involved in T-cell activation in the presence of an antigen (invading organism or molecule). Each T cell (cytotoxic T cells, T regulatory cells, etc.) has a unique TCR that recognizes a specific antigen. Triggering TCRs result in a number of events in the immune response including the production of cytokines (cell signals), T-cell development, gaining of specific T cells functions, and more.

Typically, TCRs found on one type of T cell (such as T regulatory cells) are not also found on another type (such as T cytotoxic cells). This seems to mean that the type of antigen that a TCR recognizes can affect the type of T cell that will develop. To test this, scientists at MIT performed molecular studies in mice by taking the nucleus of a T regulatory cell (with defined, non-changing TCR genes) from the intestine and created mouse clones where the T cells contained this specific TCR.

However, researchers found that although the mice had some T regulatory cells, they also developed another completely distinct type of T cell with the same TCR. These other T cells (iELs) can have cytotoxic T cell and anti-inflammatory functions. Therefore, one TCR influenced the development of two distinct T cell types. This finding may suggest that a given T cell type can differentiate into an entirely different type based on the cell’s environment.

For example, it was found that the T regulatory and iEL cells of the cloned mice occupied specific locations of the mouse intestine. The T regulatory cells were found mainly in the lymph nodes and a connective tissue layer. The iEL cells, however, were found primarily in the epithelial layer of the intestine. This new information may contribute to strategies to correct physiological and microbiologic imbalances that occur with inflammatory, infectious, and other diseases.

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Reference:
"One Antigen Receptor Induces Two T Cell Types | The Scientist Magazine®". The Scientist. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.

Topics: Cytotoxic T Cells, Regulatory T Cells, T Cells

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