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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 1;93(20):11014-8.

Fas (CD95) expression and death-mediating function are induced by CD4 cross-linking on CD4+ T cells.

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  • 1Division of Basic Immunology, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The CD4 receptor contributes to T-cell activation by coligating major histocompatibility complex class II on antigen presenting cells with the T-cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 complex, and triggering a cascade of signaling events including tyrosine phosphorylation of intracellular proteins. Paradoxically, CD3 cross-linking prior to TCR stimulation results in apoptotic cell death, as does injection of anti-CD4 antibodies in vivo of CD4 ligation by HIV glycoprotein (gp) 120. In this report we investigate the mechanism by which CD4 cross-linking induces cell death. We have found that CD4 cross-linking results in a small but rapid increase in levels of cell surface Fas, a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family implicated in apoptotic death and maintenance of immune homeostasis. Importantly, CD4 cross-linking triggered the ability of Fas to function as a death molecule. Subsequent to CD4 cross-linking, CD4+ splenocytes cultured overnight became sensitive to Fas-mediated death. Death was Fas-dependent, as demonstrated by cell survival in the absence of plate-bound anti-Fas antibody, and by the lack of CD4-induced death in cells from Fas-defective lymphoproliferative (lpr) mice. We demonstrate here that CD4 regulates the ability of Fas to induce cell death in Cd4+ T cells.

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