Concomitant cytotoxic effector differentiation of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in response to EBV-Infected B cells


  • Y. Tamura
  • K. Yamane
  • Y. Kawano
  • L. Bullinger
  • T. Wirtz
  • T. Weber
  • S. Sander
  • S. Ohki
  • Y. Kitajima
  • S. Okada
  • K. Rajewsky
  • T. Yasuda


  • Cancers


  • Cancers 14 (17): 4118


  • Most people infected by EBV acquire specific immunity, which then controls latent infection throughout their life. Immune surveillance of EBV-infected cells by cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells has been recognized; however, the molecular mechanism of generating cytotoxic effector T cells of the CD4(+) subset remains poorly understood. Here we compared phenotypic features and the transcriptome of EBV-specific effector-memory CD4(+) T cells and CD8(+) T cells in mice and found that both T cell types show cytotoxicity and, to our surprise, widely similar gene expression patterns relating to cytotoxicity. Similar to cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells, EBV-specific cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells from human peripheral blood expressed T-bet, Granzyme B, and Perforin and upregulated the degranulation marker, CD107a, immediately after restimulation. Furthermore, T-bet expression in cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells was highly correlated with Granzyme B and Perforin expression at the protein level. Thus, differentiation of EBV-specific cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells is possibly controlled by mechanisms shared by cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells. T-bet-mediated transcriptional regulation may explain the similarity of cytotoxic effector differentiation between CD4(+) T cells and CD8(+) T cells, implicating that this differentiation pathway may be directed by environmental input rather than T cell subset.