Michael Bevan has contributed to our understanding of the ontogeny, specificity and effector functions of cytotoxic T cells. He showed that the response to minor histocompatibility antigens is restricted by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) as previously found for virus-infected or chemically modified cells. Hence, MHC restriction is a general phenomenon encompassing normal unmodified cells and self antigens. He discovered that the specificity repertoire of T cells is selected in the thymus by self MHC-encoded antigens in a process called ‘positive selection’. He showed that dendritic cells are able to take up exogenous antigen and traffic it into the cytosol to become processed in the MHC class I presentation pathway, a process referred to as ‘cross-priming’. He showed the massive expansion of CD8+ T cells in response to infection, some of the requirements for this proliferation and the subsequent contraction and memory formation. Most recently, he has studied tissue-resident CD8+ T cell memory, which resides permanently at the site of pathogen encounter without circulating in the blood and lymphoid organs.
Interest and expertise
CD8 T cell, cytotoxic T cell, immunology, immunological memory