Induction of cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) restricts clonal expansion of helper T cells

A. M. Doyle, A. C. Mullen, A. V. Villarino, A. S. Hutchins, F. A. High, H. W. Lee, C. B. Thompson, S. L. Reiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen (CTLA)-4 plays an essential role in immunologic homeostasis. How this negative regulator of T cell activation executes its functions has remained controversial. We now provide evidence that CTLA-4 mediates a cell-intrinsic counterbalance to restrict the clonal expansion of proliferating CD4+ T cells. The regulation of CTLA-4 expression and function ensures that, after ∼3 cell divisions of expansion, most progeny will succumb to either proliferative arrest or death over the ensuing three cell divisions. The quantitative precision of the counterbalance hinges on the graded, time-independent induction of CTLA-4 expression during the first three cell divisions. In contrast to the limits imposed on unpolarized cells, T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th2 effector progeny may be rescued from proliferative arrest by interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-4 signaling, respectively, allowing appropriately stimulated progeny to proceed to the stage of tissue homing. These results suggest that the cell-autonomous regulation of CTLA-4 induction may be a Central checkpoint of clonal expansion of CD4+ T cells, allowing temporally and spatially restricted growth of progeny to be dictated by the nature of the threat posed to the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-902
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • CCR7
  • CD4
  • CTLA-4
  • Cell cycle
  • Lymphocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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