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Constitutive cytokine mRNAs mark natural killer (NK) and NK T cells poised for rapid effector function.

Natural killer (NK) and NK T cells are tissue lymphocytes that secrete cytokines rapidly upon stimulation. Here, we show that these cells maintain distinct patterns of constitutive cytokine mRNAs. Unlike conventional T cells, NK T cells activate interleukin (IL)-4 and interferon (IFN)-gamma transcription during thymic development and populate the periphery with both cytokine loci previously modified by histone acetylation. Similarly, NK cells transcribe and modify the IFN-gamma gene, but not IL-4, during developmental maturation in the bone marrow. Lineage-specific patterns of cytokine transcripts predate infection and suggest evolutionary selection for invariant but distinct types of effector responses among the earliest responding lymphocytes.

Pubmed ID: 14530376 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Animals | Chromatin | Fluorescence | Interferon-gamma | Interleukin-4 | Killer Cells, Natural | Mice | Mice, Inbred C57BL | Promoter Regions, Genetic | RNA, Messenger | T-Lymphocytes | Transcription, Genetic

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Associated grants

  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: P50 HL056385
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: HL 56385
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: CA 52511
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: AI 30663
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA052511
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: R01 AI030663

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