KLRG1+ Memory CD8 T Cells Combine Properties of Short-Lived Effectors and Long-Lived Memory

Kristin R Renkema, Matthew A Huggins, Henrique Borges da Silva, Todd P Knutson, Christy M Henzler, Sara E Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


CD8 effector T cells with a CD127hi KLRG12 phenotype are considered precursors to the long-lived memory pool, whereas KLRG1+CD127low cells are viewed as short-lived effectors. Nevertheless, we and others have shown that a KLRG1+CD127low population persists into the memory phase and that these T cells (termed long-lived effector cells [LLEC]) display robust protective function during acute rechallenge with bacteria or viruses. Whether these T cells represent a true memory population or are instead a remnant effector cell population that failed to undergo initial contraction has remained unclear. In this study, we show that LLEC from mice express a distinct phenotypic and transcriptional signature that shares characteristics of both early effectors and long-lived memory cells. We also find that in contrast to KLRG1+ effector cells, LLEC undergo homeostatic proliferation and are not critically dependent on IL-15 for their maintenance. Furthermore, we find that LLEC are predominantly derived from KLRG1+ effector cells when isolated at day 12 of the response. Our work challenges the concept that the KLRG1+CD127low population is dominated by short-lived cells and shows that KLRG1 downregulation is not a prerequisite to become a long-lived protective memory T cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1069
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)
Issue number4
Early online dateJul 1 2020
StatePublished - Aug 15 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (AI116678 to S.E.H.), an American Association of Immunologists Careers in Immunology award (to M.A.H. and S.E.H.), a postdoctoral fellowship University of Minnesota Cancer Biology Training Grant (National Cancer Institute T32 CA009138 [to K.R.R.]), and a Paul C. Shiverick/Cancer Research Institute Irvington fellowship (to H.B.d.S.).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'KLRG1+ Memory CD8 T Cells Combine Properties of Short-Lived Effectors and Long-Lived Memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this