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J Immunol. 2000 Feb 1;164(3):1216-22.

Naive CD8+ T cells do not require costimulation for proliferation and differentiation into cytotoxic effector cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Most current models of T cell activation postulate a requirement for two distinct signals. One signal is delivered through the TCR by engagement with peptide/MHC complexes, and the second is delivered by interaction between costimulatory molecules such as CD28 and its ligands CD80 and CD86. Soluble peptide/MHC tetramers provide an opportunity to test whether naive CD8+ T cells can be activated via the signal generated through the TCR-alphabeta in the absence of any potential costimulatory molecules. Using T cells from two different TCR transgenic mice in vitro, we find that TCR engagement by peptide/MHC tetramers is sufficient for the activation of naive CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, these T cells proliferate, produce cytokines, and differentiate into cytolytic effectors. Under the conditions where anti-CD28 is able to enhance proliferation of normal B6 CD4+, CD8+, and TCR transgenic CD8+ T cells with anti-CD3, we see no effect of anti-CD28 on proliferation induced by tetramers. The results of this experiment argue that given a strong signal delivered through the TCR by an authentic ligand, no costimulation is required.

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