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J Immunol. 1987 Jan 15;138(2):648-55.

The cytoplasmic expression of CD3 antigens in normal and malignant cells of the T lymphoid lineage.


Anti-CD3 (T3) Ab reacting with different proportions of thymocytes (anti-CD3a: UCHT1, anti-CD3b: T10B9, and anti-CD3c: OKT3) were tested for cytoplasmic (cCD3) and membrane (mCD3) expression in the bone marrow, thymus, and blood in man and selected primates. The expression of cCD3a and cCD3c in the perinuclear and Golgi area of large, BrdU-incorporating, strongly TdT+ thymic blasts probably represents one of the earliest signs of T cell commitment, because these blast cells are CD1-, CD4-, CD8-, and mCD3-. The cCD3+, TdT+ cells are normally restricted to the thymus and are absent among the TdT+ cells of bone marrow. The anti-CD3b Ab used, T10B9, co-caps and co-modulates with the other anti-CD3 Ab and is a T cell-specific reagent at a membrane level but does not bind to perinuclear cCD3. Instead, this reagent cross-reacts with a filamentous cytoplasmic network in non-T cells in man and in primates S. oedipus and M. rhesus despite their T cell negativity for mCD3. The characteristics of all T-ALL cases studied: cCD3+, CD7+ along with nuclear TdT+ suggest lineage fidelity to early thymic blasts. As a marked contrast, cCD3 is absent in common ALL and in AML, including cases that concomitantly express CD7 and myeloid antigens. Thus, the cCD3, TdT combination provides a very sensitive assay for residual T-ALL blasts outside the normal thymus.

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