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T-cell activation is a critical driver of immune responses. The CD28 costimulation is an essential regulator of CD4 T-cell responses, however, its relative importance in naive and memory T cells is not fully understood. Using different model systems, we observe that human memory T cells are more sensitive to CD28 costimulation than naive T cells. To deconvolute how the T-cell receptor (TCR) and CD28 orchestrate activation of human T cells, we stimulate cells using varying intensities of TCR and CD28 and profiled gene expression. We show that genes involved in cell cycle progression and division are CD28-driven in memory cells, but under TCR control in naive cells. We further demonstrate that T-helper differentiation and cytokine expression are controlled by CD28. Using chromatin accessibility profiling, we observe that AP1 transcriptional regulation is enriched when both TCR and CD28 are engaged, whereas open chromatin near CD28-sensitive genes is enriched for NF-kB motifs. Lastly, we show that CD28-sensitive genes are enriched in GWAS regions associated with immune diseases, implicating a role for CD28 in disease development. Our study provides important insights into the differential role of costimulation in naive and memory T-cell responses and disease susceptibility.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes Immun

Publication Date





390 - 408


Adult, Animals, CD28 Antigens, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CHO Cells, Cell Line, Cell Line, Tumor, Cells, Cultured, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Cytokines, Female, Humans, Immunologic Memory, Lymphocyte Activation, Male, Middle Aged, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Transcriptome