Instructed subsets or agile swarms: how T-helper cells may adaptively counter uncertainty with variability and plasticity

Edward C. Schrom, Andrea Linn Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over recent years, extensive phenotypic variability and plasticity have been revealed among the T-helper cells of the mammalian adaptive immune system, even within clonal lineages of identical antigen specificity. This challenges the conventional view that T-helper cells assort into functionally distinct subsets following differential instruction by the innate immune system. We argue that the adaptive value of coping with uncertainty can reconcile the ‘instructed subset’ framework with T-helper variability and plasticity. However, we also suggest that T-helper cells might better be understood as agile swarms engaged in collective decision-making to promote host fitness. With rigorous testing, the ‘agile swarms’ framework may illuminate how variable and plastic individual T-helper cells interact to create coherent immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Genetics and Development
Volume47
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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