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J Immunol. 1999 Apr 1;162(7):3996-4002.

Triggering of effector functions on a CD8+ T cell clone upon the aggregation of an activatory CD94/kp39 heterodimer.

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  • 1Sección de Inmunología, Hospital de la Princesa, Madrid, Spain.


Some T lymphocytes express the CD94 Ag, which is known to form heterodimers with members of the NKG2 family. We have studied the expression pattern and function of CD94 heterodimers in different alphabeta or gammadelta T cell clones. Most of the CD94+NKG2A- T cells have a low to intermediate expression of CD94 Ag. The cross-linking of the CD94/NKG2 heterodimer in one of these CD8 alphabeta CD94+NKG2A- T cell clones (K14B06) was able to: 1) increase the intracellular concentration of Ca2+, 2) induce the up-regulation of CD25 Ag expression and the secretion of IFN-gamma, and 3) trigger redirected cytotoxicity in a TCR-independent manner. This activatory property was not shared by any other costimulatory molecule expressed by the K14B06 T cell clone, including CD8, CD28, CD45, CD69, or CD2 Ags. The immunoprecipitation of CD94 heterodimer showed a 39-kDa band with a similar m.w. to the activatory heterodimer found on some NK clones. A novel form of the NKG2 family (NKG2H) was identified in K14B06. NKG2H protein represents an alternative spliced form of the NKG2E gene, displaying a charged residue in the transmembrane portion and a cytoplasmic tail that lacks immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs. The expression of NKG2H in the cell membrane through its association to CD94 and DAP-12 molecules supports that it could form part of the activatory CD94/Kp39 heterodimer present on K14B06 cells.

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