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Here we show that apoptotic cells overexpress vinculin and are ingested by dendritic cells, which subsequently cross-prime vinculin-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Successful cross-priming requires that the apoptotic cells provide maturation signals to dendritic cells through CD40-CD40 ligand (CD40L) interactions. If apoptotic cells are CD40L-, the help of a third T cell is needed for priming, indicating a regulatory role for apoptotic cells in determining priming or tolerance. Vinculin-specific CTL priming is also related to apoptosis in vivo, given that in HIV-seropositive individuals, the frequency of specific CTLs depends on the proportion of peripheral CD40L+ apoptotic cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Med

Publication Date





807 - 813


Amino Acid Sequence, Apoptosis, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Cross Reactions, DNA Primers, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Vinculin