Loss of IL-7 receptor alpha on CD4+ T cells defines terminally differentiated B cell-helping effector T cell in a B cell-rich lymphoid tissue

Hyung W. Lim, Purdue University - Main Campus
Chang H. Kim, Purdue University - Main Campus

Date of this Version


This document has been peer-reviewed.



IL-7 plays important roles in development and homeostatic proliferation of lymphocytes. IL-7 uses a receptor composed of IL-7R alpha (CD127) and the common gamma-chain (CD132) to transmit its signal. It has been unknown how CD127 is regulated during Th cell differentiation to the B cell-helping T cell lineage. In this study, we report that loss of CD127 defines terminally differentiated B cell-helping effector T cells in human tonsils. Although naive CD4(+) T cells uniformly express CD127, the memory/effector (non-NOXP3(+)) CD4(+) T cells are divided into CD127(+) and CD127(+) cells. The CD127(+) T cells are exclusively localized within the germinal centers where B cells become plasma and memory B cells, whereas CD1.27(+) T cells are found in T cell areas and the area surrounding B cell follicles. Consistently, the CD127(-) T cells highly express the B cell zone homing receptor CXCR5 with concomitant loss of CCR7. Compared with CD127(-) memory T cells, CD127(-) T cells have considerably shorter telomeres, do not proliferate in response to IL-7, and are prone to cell death. The CD127(-) T cells produce a large amount of the B cell follicle-forming chemokine CXCL13 upon stimulation with B cells and Ags. Most importantly, they are highly efficient in helping B cells produce Igs of all isotypes in a manner dependent on CD40L and ICOS and inducing activation-induced cytidine deaminase and Ig class switch recombination. The selective loss of CD127 on the B cell-helping effector T cells would have implications in regulation and termination of Ig responses.