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An in vitro model system has been developed in which freshly isolated resting WC1+ gamma/delta TcR+ T cells proliferate in response to cells transformed by the protozoan parasite Theileria annulata, providing a strategy in which the basis of activation of naive gamma/delta T cells can be investigated. Irradiated parasite-transformed cells stimulate the proliferation, but not cytolytic activity, of autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from non-immune animals. The proliferating cells are mainly WC1+ gamma/delta T cells. The majority of WC1+ gamma/delta T cells in freshly isolated PBMC express CD25 at a low level that increases when stimulated with T. annulata-infected cells. Purified WC1+ gamma/delta T cells fail to proliferate when cultured with irradiated T. annulata-infected cells and produce a small proliferative response to IL-2, but proliferate strongly to irradiated or lightly fixed Theileria-infected cells in combination with IL-2. The Theileria-infected cells express cytokine transcripts encoding IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6 and IL-10, but not IFN gamma, IL-2, IL-4 and IL-7. Purified WC1+ gamma/delta T cells stimulated with T. annulata-infected cells with or without IL-2 fail to produce IL-2 transcripts, but do produce those for TNF alpha. These experiments show that WC1+ gamma/delta T cells recognize a surface determinant on T. annulata-infected cells, that together with a second signal, which can be provided by exogenous IL-2, stimulates their proliferation.


Journal article


Scand J Immunol

Publication Date





444 - 452


Animals, Cattle, Cells, Cultured, Cytokines, Gene Expression Regulation, Germ-Free Life, Interleukin-2, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lymphocyte Activation, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta, Receptors, Interleukin, Receptors, Interleukin-12, Signal Transduction, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Theileria annulata, Theileriasis