In the context of infectious diseases, cell population transcriptomics are useful to gain mechanistic insight into protective immune responses, which is not possible using traditional whole-blood approaches. In this study, we applied a cell population transcriptomics strategy to sorted memory CD4 T cells to define novel immune signatures of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and gain insight into the phenotype of tuberculosis (TB)-specific CD4 T cells. We found a 74-gene signature that could discriminate between memory CD4 T cells from healthy latently Mycobacterium tuberculosis–infected subjects and noninfected controls. The gene signature presented a significant overlap with the gene signature of the Th1* (CCR6 + CXCR3 + CCR4 2 ) subset of CD4 T cells, which contains the majority of TB-specific reactivity and is expanded in LTBI. In particular, three Th1* genes (ABCB1, c-KIT, and GPA33) were differentially expressed at the RNA and protein levels in memory CD4 T cells of LTBI subjects compared with controls. The 74-gene signature also highlighted novel phenotypic markers that further defined the CD4 T cell subset containing TB specificity. We found the majority of TB-specific epitope reactivity in the CD62L 2 GPA33 2 Th1* subset. Thus, by combining cell population transcriptomics and single-cell protein-profiling techniques, we identified a CD4 T cell immune signature of LTBI that provided novel insights into the phenotype of TB-specific CD4 T cells. The Journal of Immunology, 2018, 200: 3283–3290.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy