B.D.C. van Schaik
A.H.C. van Kampen
R.A.W. van Lier
N. de Vries
- Human T-cell memory consists mainly of unexpanded clones
- Immunology letters
- Volume | Issue number
- 133 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
The immune system is able to respond to millions of antigens using adaptive receptors, including the αβ-T-cell receptor (TCR). Upon antigen encounter a T-cell may proliferate to produce a clone of TCR-identical cells, which develop a memory phenotype. Previous studies suggested that most memory clones are clearly expanded. In accordance, the β-chain repertoire of T-cell memory subsets was reported to be 10 times less diverse than those of naive subsets, reflecting stringent selection. However, due to technological limitations detailed information was lacking regarding the size of clonal expansions and the diversity of the TCR-repertoire in naive and memory T-cell populations.
Here, using high-throughput sequencing, we show that the memory repertoire in human peripheral blood contains only few expanded clones and consists mainly of low frequency clones. Additionally, the memory repertoire is much more diverse than expected. In two healthy persons we observed that only 2-7% of the CD4 and CD8 memory clones found were clearly expanded. In line with this observation we show that the β-chains repertoire size of the CD4 memory compartment is only two times smaller, and that of the CD8 memory compartment is only 3-10 times smaller than the naive compartments.
Our results show that the T-cell memory compartment has a very different distribution of clones than anticipated. This has important implications for the current dogma of immunological memory, and changes the interpretation of repertoire aberrations in (patho-)physiological situations such as ageing and auto-immunity. It raises new questions on the factors that steer maturation of memory phenotype and determine the size of memory clones.
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