Iterative T cell stimulation can result in senescence, exhaustion, or death (SED) as observed during chronic viral infections, certain heterologous prime boost (HPB) vaccination studies, or cancer. Knowing whether there are axiomatic limits to T cell clonal expansion is a critical gap in knowledge relevant for immunotherapy of diverse diseases as well as fundamental understanding of immunobiology. In pilot experiments that began >8y ago, we identified a stimulation strategy revealing that memory CD8 T populations are essentially infinitely expansible, our oldest population having gone through 38 booster immunizations over 3200 days (longer than any mouse lives) and effectively producing >1030 progeny. We hypothesize that this proof-of-principle, extreme-of-nature experiment reveals fundamental T cell biology highly relevant to our understanding of the immune system and provides unexpected observations that could be exploited for medically relevant purposes. We will leverage this unique resource (ISTCs, iteratively stimulated T cells) to explore the consequences of iterative stimulation on T cell biology. We will address the rules for avoiding SED despite repeated stimulation, the relevance of ISTCs expressing exhaustion-associated genes without appearing functionally exhausted, and the mechanisms by which ISTCs durably retain the unique effector-like property of circulation between blood and mucosal tissues.
Aim 1. To define the regulation and evolution of the ISTC differentiation program. We will 1) define the evolution of ISTCs at the single cell level using bioinformatic and computational biology approaches, 2) define rules for avoiding T cell SED by modifying the parameters of our stimulation strategy, and 3) contrast ISTCs from exhausted T cells (Tex) on a molecular level by comparing gene expression patterns of Tex and consecutive generations of ISTCs. We will test the hypotheses that 1) everlasting proliferative capacity depends on avoiding terminal differentiation of a ?stem? population, 2) excessive division over a short period of time promotes terminal differentiation, and 3) despite sharing key features with exhausted cells, functional ISTCs will reveal discrete patterns of gene expression thus refining the molecular definition of exhaustion.
Aim 2. To define ISTC recirculation properties, mechanisms of immunosurveillance, and antimicrobial functions. ISTCs represent a unique opportunity to interrogate mechanisms of nonlymphoid tissue recirculation. We will 1) define the migration properties of ISTCs using parabiosis surgeries, photoactivatable mouse lines, and perturbing homing molecules, 2) assess the protective potential of ISTCs in a LM-N challenge model, and 3) extend these findings to ?dirty? mice (mice which have been iteratively exposed to natural pathogens) and humans. We will test the hypotheses that 1) ISTCs recirculate through NLTs, 2) ISTCs can protect against pathogen challenge, and 3) ISTCs can be identified in ?dirty? mice and humans.

Public Health Relevance

Repeated stimulation (e.g. chronic viral infections and exposure to tumor microenvironments) drives T cell senescence, exhaustion, and death. We have devised a T cell stimulation strategy that allows for seemingly everlasting expansion of functional T cells that retain the property of constitutive migration to nonlymphoid tissues. This unique resource will enable us to define features of T cell stimulation that permit everlasting expansion without compromising cell functionality, identify mechanisms of T cell migration to mucosal tissues, address gaps in our understanding of immunosurveillance, and will provide knowledge that may be exploited for vaccination and adoptive cell therapies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular and Molecular Immunology - B Study Section (CMIB)
Program Officer
Rothermel, Annette L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Beura, Lalit K; Mitchell, Jason S; Thompson, Emily A et al. (2018) Intravital mucosal imaging of CD8+ resident memory T cells shows tissue-autonomous recall responses that amplify secondary memory. Nat Immunol 19:173-182
Beura, Lalit K; Wijeyesinghe, Sathi; Thompson, Emily A et al. (2018) T Cells in Nonlymphoid Tissues Give Rise to Lymph-Node-Resident Memory T Cells. Immunity 48:327-338.e5
Steinert, Elizabeth M; Thompson, Emily A; Beura, Lalit K et al. (2018) Cutting Edge: Evidence for Nonvascular Route of Visceral Organ Immunosurveillance by T Cells. J Immunol 201:337-342
Jameson, Stephen C; Masopust, David (2018) Understanding Subset Diversity in T Cell Memory. Immunity 48:214-226
Beura, L K; Rosato, P C; Masopust, D (2017) Implications of Resident Memory T Cells for Transplantation. Am J Transplant 17:1167-1175
Rosato, Pamela C; Beura, Lalit K; Masopust, David (2017) Tissue resident memory T cells and viral immunity. Curr Opin Virol 22:44-50
Masopust, David; Sivula, Christine P; Jameson, Stephen C (2017) Of Mice, Dirty Mice, and Men: Using Mice To Understand Human Immunology. J Immunol 199:383-388
Mohammed, Javed; Beura, Lalit K; Bobr, Aleh et al. (2016) Stromal cells control the epithelial residence of DCs and memory T cells by regulated activation of TGF-?. Nat Immunol 17:414-21
Hondowicz, Brian D; An, Dowon; Schenkel, Jason M et al. (2016) Interleukin-2-Dependent Allergen-Specific Tissue-Resident Memory Cells Drive Asthma. Immunity 44:155-166
Schenkel, Jason M; Fraser, Kathryn A; Casey, Kerry A et al. (2016) IL-15-Independent Maintenance of Tissue-Resident and Boosted Effector Memory CD8 T Cells. J Immunol 196:3920-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 23 publications