Peptide Avidity for TCR on CD4 Effectors Determines the Extent of Memory Generation


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The impact of initial peptide antigen affinity for TCR in driving memory fate has been studied previously, however its contributions when effectors contract to memory is unclear. To become memory, effector CD4 T cells must recognize antigen at 5-8 days post-infection, at what we call the “effector checkpoint.” We examined whether peptide affinity for the TCR of effectors impacts the extent of memory and degree of protection against rechallenge. We made an influenza A virus (IAV) nucleoprotein (NP)-specific TCR transgenic strain, FluNP, and generated NP-peptide variants that bind FluNP TCR with a broad range of avidity. To vary avidity in vivo , we primed naïve donor FluNP in IAV-infected hosts, purified 6d FluNP effectors and co-transferred them with peptide-pulsed APC into uninfected second hosts. Higher affinity peptides yielded higher numbers of FluNP memory cells in the spleen and most dramatically in the lung and dLN, and drove better protection against lethal influenza infection. The major impact of avidity was on memory cell number, not cytokine production, and was already apparent within several days of transfer. We previously showed that autocrine IL-2 production during the effector checkpoint prevented default effector apoptosis and supported memory formation. Here, peptide avidity determined the level of IL-2 produced by effectors. IL-2Rα expression by APC drove more memory cell formation, suggesting that transpresentation of IL-2 by APC at this checkpoint enhanced CD4 memory generation. Secondary memory generation was also avidity-dependent. We propose this pathway selects CD4 effectors of highest affinity to progress to memory. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
cd4 effectors,peptide,memory generation,tcr
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