The development and fate of follicular helper T cells defined by an IL-21 reporter mouse

Katja Luthje, Axel Kallies, Yoko Shimohakamada, Gabrielle T Belz, Amanda Light, David Tarlinton, Stewart L Nutt

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269 Citations (Scopus)


Germinal centers require CD4+ follicular helper T cells (T FH cells), whose hallmark is expression of the transcriptional repressor Bcl-6, the chemokine receptor CXCR5 and interleukin 21 (IL-21). To track the development and fate of TFH cells, we generated an IL-21 reporter mouse by introducing sequence encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the Il21 locus; these mice had expression of IL-21-GFP in CD4 +CXCR5+PD-1+ TFH cells. IL-21-GFP+ TFH cells were multifunctional helper cells that coexpressed several cytokines, including interferon-? (IFN-?), IL-2 and IL-4. TFH cells proliferated and gave rise to transferrable memory cells with plasticity, which differentiated after recall into conventional effector helper T cells and TFH cells. Thus, we demonstrated that TFH cells were not terminally differentiated but instead retained the flexibility to be recruited into other helper T cell subsets and nonlymphoid tissues
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491 - 498
Number of pages8
JournalNature Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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