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The overall degree of complexity of the T cell surface has been unclear, constraining our understanding of its biology. Using global gene expression analysis, we show that 111 of 374 genes encoding well-characterized leukocyte surface antigens are expressed by a resting cytotoxic T cell. Unexpectedly, of 97 stringently defined, T cell-specific transcripts with unknown functions that we identify, none encode proteins with the modular architecture characteristic of 80% of leukocyte surface antigens. Only two encode proteins with membrane topologies found exclusively in cell surface molecules. Our analysis indicates that the cell type-specific composition of the resting CD8+ T cell surface is now largely defined, providing an insight into the overall compositional complexity of the mammalian cell surface and a framework for formulating systematic models of T cell surface-dependent processes, such as T cell receptor triggering.


Journal article



Publication Date





213 - 223


Antigens, Surface, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Membrane, Clone Cells, Gene Expression, Gene Library, Humans, Killer Cells, Natural, T-Lymphocytes, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Transcription, Genetic