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Recent studies using cloned antigen-specific T lymphocytes and monoclonal antibodies directed at their various surface glycoprotein components have led to identification of the human T cell antigen receptor as a surface complex comprised of a clonotypic 90 kDa Ti heterodimer and the invariant 20 and 25 kDa T3 molecules. Approximately 30,000-40,000 Ti and T3 molecules exist on the surface of human T lymphocytes. These glycoproteins are acquired and expressed during late thymic ontogeny, thus providing the structural basis for immunological competence. The alpha and beta subunits of Ti bear no precursor-product relationship to one another and are encoded by separate germline V, D, J and C segments which rearrange during intrathymic differentiation to form an active gene set. Triggering of the T3-Ti receptor complex induces a rapid increase in free cytoplasmic Ca2+ and gives rise to specific antigen-induced proliferation through an autocrine pathway involving endogenous interleukin-2 production, release and subsequent binding to interleukin-2 receptors. The implications of these findings for understanding of human T cell growth and its regulation in disease states are discussed.


Journal article


Biochem Soc Symp

Publication Date





211 - 232


Amino Acid Sequence, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Cell Differentiation, Cell Membrane, Chemical Phenomena, Chemistry, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Epitopes, Genes, MHC Class II, Humans, Immune System Diseases, Lymphocyte Activation, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, T-Lymphocytes, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic