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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4294-8.

Overexpressed Ly-6A.2 mediates cell-cell adhesion by binding a ligand expressed on lymphoid cells.

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  • 1Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA.


The Ly-6 locus encodes several cell surface proteins whose functions are unknown. Although it is hypothesized that these proteins may be receptors, there is no direct evidence that they bind a ligand. Herein we present evidence that Ly-6A.2, a Ly-6 protein expressed on T lymphocytes, binds a ligand expressed on normal thymocytes and splenic B and T cells. We find that transgenic thymocytes that overexpress Ly-6A.2 spontaneously aggregate in culture. This homotypic adhesion requires the overexpression of Ly-6A.2 because it is not observed in cultures of nontransgenic thymocytes. The aggregation of Ly-6A.2 transgenic thymocytes is inhibited by phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (which removes Ly-6A.2 and other glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins from the membrane). Some anti-Ly-6A.2 monoclonal antibodies, including nonactivating ones and Fab' fragments, inhibit this aggregation. In contrast, other anti-Ly-6A.2 monoclonal antibodies increase the aggregation of transgenic but not nontransgenic thymocytes. To further examine whether Ly-6A.2 mediates adhesion (versus inducing another adhesion pathway) reaggregation assays were performed with paraformaldehyde-fixed Tg+ thymocytes. Paraformaldehyde-fixed Tg+ thymocytes reaggregate in culture and this aggregation is also blocked by phosphatidyl-inositol-specific phospholipase C and anti-Ly-6A.2 monoclonal antibodies. These results indicate that the homotypic adhesion of cultured Ly-6A.2 transgenic thymocytes is directly mediated by Ly-6A.2 and, more importantly, strongly suggests that Ly-6A.2 binds a ligand that is expressed on thymocytes. Tg+ thymocytes also bind to nontransgenic thymocytes, B cells, and T cells, indicating that normal cells naturally express the Ly-6A.2 ligand.

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