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J Immunol. 1999 Sep 15;163(6):3131-7.

The role of the common cytokine receptor gamma-chain in regulating IL-2-dependent, activation-induced CD8+ T cell death.

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The Carlos and Marguerite Mason Transplantation Research Center, Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30033, USA.


IL-2-dependent, activation-induced T cell death (AICD) plays an important role in peripheral tolerance. Using CD8+ TCR-transgenic lymphocytes (2C), we investigated the mechanisms by which IL-2 prepares CD8+ T cells for AICD. We found that both Fas and TNFR death pathways mediate the AICD of 2C cells. Neutralizing IL-2, IL-2R alpha, or IL-2R beta inhibited AICD. In contrast, blocking the common cytokine receptor gamma-chain (gamma c) prevented Bcl-2 induction and augmented AICD. IL-2 up-regulated Fas ligand (FasL) and down-regulated gamma c expression on activated 2C cells in vitro and in vivo. Adult IL-2 gene-knockout mice displayed exaggerated gamma c expression on their CD8+, but not on their CD4+, T cells. IL-4, IL-7, and IL-15, which do not promote AICD, did not influence FasL or gamma c expression. These data provide evidence that IL-2 prepares CD8+ T lymphocytes for AICD by at least two mechanisms: 1) by up-regulating a pro-apoptotic molecule, FasL, and 2) by down-regulating a survival molecule, gamma c.

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