Super-killer CTLs are generated by single gene deletion of Bach2

Philippa R. Barton, Alexander J. Davenport, Jens Hukelmann, Doreen A. Cantrell, Jane C. Stinchcombe, Arianne C. Richard, Gillian M. Griffiths (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Bach2 codes for a transcriptional regulator exerting major influences on T cell-mediated immune regulation. Effector CTLs derived from in vitro activation of murine CD8 + T cells showed increased proliferative and cytolytic capacity in the absence of BACH2. Before activation, BACH2-deficient splenic CD8 + T cells had a higher abundance of memory and reduced abundance of naïve cells compared to wild-type. CTLs derived from central memory T cells were more potently cytotoxic than those derived from naïve T cells, but even within separated subsets, BACH2-deficiency conferred a cytotoxic advantage. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy revealed larger granules in BACH2-deficient compared to wild-type CTLs, and proteomic analysis showed an increase in granule content, including perforin and granzymes. Thus, the enhanced cytotoxicity observed in effector CTLs lacking BACH2 arises not only from differences in their initial differentiation state but also inherent production of enlarged cytolytic granules. These results demonstrate how a single gene deletion can produce a CTL super-killer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1776-1788
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
Early online date10 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022


  • CTL
  • BACH2
  • cytotoxicity
  • perforin
  • granzymes


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