Reciprocal responsiveness to interleukin-12 and interferon-α specifies human CD8+ effector versus central memory T-cell fates

Hilario J. Ramos, Ann M. Davis, Alexander G. Cole, John D. Schatzle, James Forman, J. David Farrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Multiple innate signals regulate the genesis of effector and memory CD8+ T cells. In this study, we demonstrate that the innate cytokines interleukin (IL)-12 and interferon (IFN)-α/β regulate distinct aspects of effector and memory human CD8+ T-cell differentiation. IL-12 exclusively promoted the development of IFN-γ- and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-secreting T effector memory (TEM) cells, whereas IFN-α drove the development of T central memory (TCM) cells. The development of TEM and TCM was linked to cell division. In rapidly dividing cells, IL-12 programmed TEM through induction of the IL-12 receptor β2. In contrast, IFN-α regulated TCM development by slowing the progression of cell division in a subpopulation of cells that selectively expressed elevated IFN-α/β receptor-2. The strength of signal delivered through T-cell receptor (TCR) engagement regulated the responsiveness of cells to IL-12 and IFN-α. In the presence of both IL-12 and IFN-α, these cytokine signals were amplified as the strength of the TCR signal was increased, promoting the simultaneous development of both TCM and TEM. Together, our results support a novel model in which IL-12 and IFN-α act in a nonredundant manner to regulate the colinear generation of both effector and memory cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5516-5525
Number of pages10
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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