Author(s): Burkett PR, Koka R, Chien M, Chai S, Chan F
The generation and maintenance of immunological memory requires the activation, expansion, and persistent proliferation of antigen-specific T cells. Recent work suggests that IL-15 may be important for this process. Surprisingly, we now find that expression of the high-affinity receptor for IL-15, IL-15R alpha, on T cells is dispensable for the generation or maintenance of memory CD8(+) T cells. By contrast, IL-15R alpha expression on cells other than T cells is absolutely critical for this function. These findings may be related to IL-15R alpha's ability to present IL-15 in trans to low-affinity IL-15R beta gamma(c) receptors on memory CD8(+) T cells. These unexpected results provide insights into how IL-15R alpha supports memory CD8(+) T cells.