Follicular helper T (TFH) cells are specialized in providing help for B cell differentiation and Ab secretion. Several positive and negative regulators of TFH cell differentiation have been described but their control is not fully understood. In this study, we show that Notch signaling in T cells is a major player in the development and function of TFH cells. T cell-specific gene ablation of Notch1 and Notch2 impaired differentiation of TFH cells in draining lymph nodes of mice immunized with T-dependent Ags or infected with parasites. Impaired TFH cell differentiation correlated with deficient germinal center development and the absence of high-affinity Abs. The impact of loss of Notch on TFH cell differentiation was largely independent of its effect on IL-4. These results show a previously unknown role for Notch in the regulation of TFH cell differentiation and function with implications for the control of this T cell population.
- follicular helper T cells
- notch signaling