The maintenance of peripheral naive T lymphocytes in humans is dependent on their homeostatic division, not continuing emigration from the thymus, which undergoes involution with age. However, postthymic maintenance of naive T cells is still poorly understood. Previously we reported that recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) are contained in CD31+CD25− naive T cells as defined by their levels of signal joint T cell receptor rearrangement excision circles (sjTRECs). Here, by differential gene expression analysis followed by protein expression and functional studies, we define that the naive T cells having divided the least since thymic emigration express complement receptors (CR1 and CR2) known to bind complement C3b- and C3d-decorated microbial products and, following activation, produce IL-8 (CXCL8), a major chemoattractant for neutrophils in bacterial defense. We also observed an IL-8–producing memory T cell subpopulation coexpressing CR1 and CR2 and with a gene expression signature resembling that of RTEs. The functions of CR1 and CR2 on T cells remain to be determined, but we note that CR2 is the receptor for Epstein-Barr virus, which is a cause of T cell lymphomas and a candidate environmental factor in autoimmune disease.
Marcin L. Pekalski, Arcadio Rubio García, Ricardo C. Ferreira, Daniel B. Rainbow, Deborah J. Smyth, Meghavi Mashar, Jane Brady, Natalia Savinykh, Xaquin Castro Dopico, Sumiyya Mahmood, Simon Duley, Helen E. Stevens, Neil M. Walker, Antony J. Cutler, Frank Waldron-Lynch, David B. Dunger, Claire Shannon-Lowe, Alasdair J. Coles, Joanne L. Jones, Chris Wallace, John A. Todd, Linda S. Wicker