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Previous studies indicated that, unlike peripheral T-cells, freshly isolated thymocytes show little or no proliferation to activation signals via either the antigen/MHC receptor complex (CD3Ti) or the CD2 structure, unless exogenous IL-2 or phorbol esters are added. To investigate these differences in more detail, we have studied the response of clonal populations of mature thymocyte subsets as well as peripheral T-cell clones to activation via either CD3Ti or CD2. Here we report the characterization of three clones belonging to different subsets of mature thymocytes: CD3+ CD4+ (Ti alpha/beta), CD3+ CD8+ (Ti alpha/beta), and CD3+ CD4- CD8- (Ti gamma/delta). All three clones could be induced to proliferate to insolubilized anti-CD3 mAb. In contrast, activating anti-CD2 mAbs, which induced proliferation in all peripheral T-cell clones tested, did not induce an appreciable proliferation of the thymocyte clones. The latter required additional signals provided by the phorbol ester PMA. However, anti-CD2 mAbs were able to induce early activation events such as phosphoinositide turnover and [Ca2+]i increase to an extent similar to the ones elicited by anti-CD3 mAb. These results further support previous findings suggesting that mature thymocytes are not functionally identical to peripheral T-cells.


Journal article


Cell Immunol

Publication Date





350 - 364


Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antigen-Antibody Reactions, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, CD2 Antigens, CD3 Complex, Calcium, Clone Cells, Humans, Interleukin-2, Lymphocyte Activation, Phosphatidylinositols, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Receptors, Immunologic, Solubility, T-Lymphocytes, Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate, Thymus Gland