TGF-β downregulates KLRG1 expression in mouse and human CD8+ T cells

Sabrina Schwartzkopff, Sandra Woyciechowski, Ulrike Aichele, Tobias Flecken, Nu Zhang, Robert Thimme, Hanspeter Pircher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The inhibitory receptor killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG1) and the integrin αE (CD103) are expressed by CD8+ T cells and both are specific for E-cadherin. However, KLRG1 ligation by E-cadherin inhibits effector T-cell function, whereas binding of CD103 to E-cadherin enhances cell-cell interaction and promotes target cell lysis. Here, we demonstrate that KLRG1 and CD103 expression in CD8+ T cells from untreated and virus-infected mice are mutually exclusive. Inverse correlation of KLRG1 and CD103 expression was also found in human CD8+ T cells-infiltrating hepatocellular carcinomas. As TGF-β is known to induce CD103 expression in CD8+ T cells, we examined whether this cytokine also regulates KLRG1 expression. Indeed, our data further reveal that TGF-β signaling in mouse as well as in human CD8+ T cells downregulates KLRG1 expression. This finding provides a rationale for the reciprocal expression of KLRG1 and CD103 in different CD8+ T-cell subsets. In addition, it points to the limitation of KLRG1 as a marker for terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells if lymphocytes from tissues expressing high levels of TGF-β are analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2212-2217
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • E-cadherin. CD8 T cell
  • Killer cell lectin-like receptor G1
  • TGF-β
  • α (CD103)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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