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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Nov 8, 1994; 91(23): 10854–10858.

Immune function in mice lacking the perforin gene.


Mice lacking the perforin gene were generated by using targeted gene disruption in embryonal stem cells. When infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), perforin-less (-/-) mice showed clear signs of having mounted an immune response based on activation of CD8 T cells but were unable to clear the LCMV infection. This failure to eliminate virus was accompanied by a failure to generate spleen cells capable of lysing LCMV-infected fibroblasts in vitro. Spleen cells from LCMV-infected -/- mice were able to lyse hematopoietic target cells after exposure to phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and ionomycin, provided the target cells expressed the Fas antigen. Spleen cells from -/- mice also responded to alloantigen in mixed leukocyte culture by blastogenesis and proliferation. The resulting cells were able to lyse hematopoietic target cells, although not as well as spleen cells from +/+ littermates sensitized in the same manner. However, lysis by -/- cells was again seen only if the target cells expressed Fas antigen. We conclude that perforin-less -/- mice retain and express the Fas lytic pathway as expressed in vitro but that this pathway is insufficient to clear an LCMV infection in vivo.

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