IL-7R alpha gene expression is inversely correlated with cell cycle progression in IL-7-stimulated T lymphocytes

Swainson, L.; Verhoeyen, E.; Cosset, F. L.; Taylor, N.

Journal of Immunology

2006-06-01 / vol 176 / pages 6702-6708


IL-7 plays a major role in T lymphocyte homeostasis and has been proposed as an immune adjuvant for lymphopenic patients. This prospect is based, at least in part, on the short-term expansion of peripheral T cells in rIL7-treated mice and primates. Nevertheless, in vivo, following initial increases in T cell proliferation and numbers, lymphocytes return to a quiescent state. As the bases for this cell cycle exit have not yet been elucidated, it is important to assess the long-term biological effects of IL-7 on quiescent human T lymphocyte subsets. In this study, we find that IL-7-stimulated CD4(+) naive lymphocytes enter into cell cycle with significantly delayed kinetics as compared with the memory population. Importantly though, these lymphocytes exit from the cell cycle despite the continuous replenishment of rIL-7. This response is distinct in memory and naive CD4(+) lymphocytes with memory cells starting to exit from cycle by day 10 vs day 18 for naive cells. Return to quiescence is associated with a cessation in IL-7R signaling as demonstrated by an abrogation of STAT-5 phosphorylation, despite an up-regulation of surface IL-7R alpha. Indeed, an initial 10-fold decrease in IL-7R alpha mRNA levels is followed by increased IL-7R alpha expression in naive as well as memory T cells, with kinetics paralleling cell cycle exit. Altogether, our data demonstrate that IL-7 promotes the extended survival of both naive and memory CD4(+) T cells, whereas cycling of these two subsets is distinct and transient. Thus, IL-7 therapy should be designed to allow optimal responsiveness of naive and memory T cell subsets.



in-vivo; survival; bone-marrow-transplantation; chain expression; homeostatic proliferation; il-7 receptor-alpha; immune reconstitution; interleukin-7 receptor; lentiviral vectors; recent thymic emigrants

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