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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Feb 15;97(4):1707-12.

The dual functions of fas ligand in the regulation of peripheral CD8+ and CD4+ T cells.

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Department of Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Although Fas ligand (FasL) is well characterized for its capacity to deliver a death signal through its receptor Fas, recent work demonstrates that FasL also can receive signals facilitating antigen (Ag)-specific proliferation of CD8(+) T cells. The fact that the gld mutation differentially influences the proliferative capacity of CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells presented the intriguing possibility that a single molecule may play opposing roles in these two subpopulations. The present study focuses on how these positive and negative regulatory roles are balanced. We show that naive CD4(+) T cells are responsive to FasL-mediated costimulation on encounter with Ag when Fas-mediated death is prevented. Thus, the machinery responsible for transducing the FasL positive reverse signal operates in both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Instead, differential control of FasL expression distinguishes the role of FasL in these two T cell subpopulations. FasL costimulation occurs immediately on T cell receptor ligation and correlates with the up-regulation of FasL expression on CD8(+) and naive CD4(+) T cells, both of which are sensitive to the FasL costimulatory signal. Conversely, FasL-initiated death occurs late in an immune response when high levels of FasL expression are maintained on CD4(+) T cells that are sensitive to Fas-mediated death, but not on CD8(+) T cells that are relatively insensitive to this signal. This careful orchestration of FasL expression during times of susceptibility to costimulation and conversely, to death, endows FasL with the capacity to both positively and negatively regulate the peripheral T cell compartment.

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