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J Immunol. 1999 Nov 1;163(9):4833-41.

Analysis of 4-1BB ligand (4-1BBL)-deficient mice and of mice lacking both 4-1BBL and CD28 reveals a role for 4-1BBL in skin allograft rejection and in the cytotoxic T cell response to influenza virus.

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Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


4-1BB ligand (4-1BBL) is a member of the TNF family expressed on activated APC. 4-1BBL binds to 4-1BB (CD137) on activated CD4 and CD8 T cells and in conjunction with strong signals through the TCR provides a CD28-independent costimulatory signal leading to high level IL-2 production by primary resting T cells. Here we report the immunological characterization of mice lacking 4-1BBL and of mice lacking both 4-1BBL and CD28. 4-1BBL-/- mice mount neutralizing IgM and IgG responses to vesicular stomatitis virus that are indistinguishable from those of wild-type mice. 4-1BBL-/- mice show unimpaired CTL responses to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and exhibit normal skin allograft rejection but have a weaker CTL response to influenza virus than wild-type mice. 4-1BBL-/-CD28-/- mice retain the CTL response to LCMV, respond poorly to influenza virus, and exhibit a delay in skin allograft rejection. In agreement with these in vivo results, allogeneic CTL responses of CD28-/- but not CD28+/+ T cells to 4-1BBL-expressing APC are substantially inhibited by soluble 4-1BB receptor as is the in vitro secondary response of CD28+ T cells to influenza virus peptides. TCR-transgenic CD28-/- LCMV glycoprotein-specific T cells are insensitive to the presence of 4-1BBL when a wild-type peptide is used, but the response to a weak agonist peptide is greatly augmented by the presence of 4-1BBL. These results further substantiate the idea that different immune responses vary in their dependence on costimulation and suggest a role for 4-1BBL in augmenting suboptimal CTL responses in vivo.

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