Cytotoxic immune cells are endowed with a high degree of heterogeneity in their lytic function, but how this heterogeneity is generated is still an open question. We therefore investigated if human CD8+ T cells could segregate their lytic components during telophase, using imaging flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and live cell imaging. We show that CD107a+-intracellular vesicles, perforin and granzyme B unevenly segregate in a constant fraction of telophasic cells during each division round. Mathematical modeling posits that unequal lytic molecule inheritance by daughter cells results from the random distribution of lytic granules on the two sides of the cleavage furrow. Finally, we establish that the level of lytic compartment in individual CTL dictates CTL killing capacity. Together, our results show the stochastic asymmetric distribution of effector molecules in dividing CD8+ T cells. They propose uneven mitotic repartition of pre-packaged lytic components as a mechanism generating non-hereditary functional heterogeneity in CTL.
Fanny Lafouresse, Romain Jugele, Sabina Müller, Marine Doineau, Valérie Duplan-Eche, Eric Espinosa, Marie-Pierre Puissegur, Sébastien Gadat, and Salvatore Valitutti, “Stochastic asymmetric repartition of lytic machinery in dividing CD8+ T cells generates heterogeneous killing behavior”, eLife, 2021.