UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cytokine and microbial regulators of T cell development, differentiation and function. Plumb, Adam


The cytokine Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is critical for T cell development and function. Mutations that block IL-7 signaling in humans cause severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome due to the failure of T cells to develop. Conversely, mutations that result in constitutive signaling through the IL-7 receptor can drive human leukemias, including Early Thymic Progenitor (ETP) acute lymphoblast leukemia. How IL-7 influences ETP development is still unclear since ETPs do not normally express IL-7Rα. We found that ETPs are highly dependent on and sensitive to changes in IL-7 signaling however, IL-7Rα expressing bone marrow progenitors are not. IL-7 does not regulate the survival or proliferation of ETPs, although it does at subsequent stages of T cell development. We hypothesize an instructive role of IL-7 signaling in the differentiation or migration of bone marrow precursors of ETPs that is distinct from its classic mechanisms regulating survival and proliferation. Adjuvant IL-7 has been shown to increase the quantity and quality of T cell responses to clear chronic viral infections, however, its physiological role in anti-viral T cells is unclear. We found that IL-7 signaling was required for efficient clearance of Influenza A virus (IAV) and protection from viral induced pathology. T cells require cell intrinsic IL-7 signaling for efficient primary CD4 and CD8 T cell responses to IAV. The requirement for IL-7 signaling in the anti-viral response, and the ability of exogenous IL-7 to boost T cell responses suggests that it may be clinically useful in therapy or vaccination against IAV. IAV remains an important global health challenge, with up to 10% of the global population infected annually. Current IAV vaccines do not generate universal cross-serotype immunity. T cell memory responses to IAV correlate with cross-serotype protection. Transcutaneous immunization has shown potential to induce memory T cell responses that can protect against infections at other mucosal sites, including the lung. We found that transcutaneous immunization generates a strong memory CD8 T cell response that can protect from challenge with IAV. Therefore, transcutaneous immunization may be a useful to produce cross-serotype IAV immunity.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada