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Cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognize short peptides presented in association with MHC class I (MHCI) molecules on the surface of target cells. The Ag specificity of T lymphocytes is conferred by the TCR, but invariable regions of the peptide-MHCI (pMHCI) molecule also interact with the cell surface glycoprotein CD8. The distinct binding sites for CD8 and the TCR allow pMHCI to be bound simultaneously by both molecules. Even before it was established that the TCR recognized pMHCI, it was shown that CTL exhibit clonal heterogeneity in their ability to activate in the presence of anti-CD8 Abs. These Ab-based studies have since been interpreted in the context of the interaction between pMHCI and CD8 and have recently been extended to show that anti-CD8 Ab can affect the cell surface binding of multimerized pMHCI Ags. In this study, we examine the role of CD8 further using point-mutated pMHCI Ag and show that anti-CD8 Abs can either enhance or inhibit the activation of CTL and the stable cell surface binding of multimerized pMHCI, regardless of whether there is a pMHCI/CD8 interaction. We further demonstrate that multimerized pMHCI Ag can recruit CD8 in the absence of a pMHCI/CD8 interaction and that anti-CD8 Abs can generate an intracellular activation signal resulting in CTL effector function. These results question many previous assumptions as to how anti-CD8 Abs must function and indicate that CD8 has multiple roles in CTL activation that are not necessarily dependent on an interaction with pMHCI.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





6650 - 6660


Adjuvants, Immunologic, Animals, Antibodies, Blocking, Binding Sites, Antibody, Binding, Competitive, CD8 Antigens, Cell Line, Cell Line, Transformed, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Membrane, Clone Cells, Cross-Linking Reagents, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, H-2 Antigens, HLA-A2 Antigen, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Humans, Immunosuppressive Agents, Lymphocyte Activation, Mice, Peptides, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic