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Nature. 1984 Jul 19-25;310(5974):241-4.

Activated T lymphocytes produce a matrix-degrading heparan sulphate endoglycosidase.


We have previously found that lines of activated T lymphocytes specifically autosensitized to the basic protein of myelin (BP), on intravenous inoculation into syngeneic rats, were able to penetrate blood vessels, accumulate in the nervous system and cause experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). An important question is how effector T cells reach such targets outside the walls of blood vessels. To investigate this we have studied in vitro the interaction of anti-BP effector T lymphocytes with the basement membrane-like extracellular matrix produced by vascular endothelial cells. We now report that activated but not resting T lymphocytes produce an endoglycosidase capable of degrading heparan sulphate side chains of the proteoglycan scaffold of the extracellular matrix. Moreover, the anti-BP T lymphocytes respond to BP presented by extracellular matrix by markedly enhanced elaboration of the endoglycosidase. These results suggest that tissue-specific antigens on blood vessel walls could direct lymphocyte homing by activating enzymes that facilitate penetration of the subendothelial basal lamina. They also suggest that effector T lymphocytes can recognize antigen which is not associated with a major histocompatibility complex signal.

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