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J Immunol. 2001 Jan 15;166(2):741-5.

Cutting edge: detection of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells by HLA-DR1 oligomers is dependent on the T cell activation state.

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Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol 2001 Feb 15;166(4):2887.


Class I MHC tetramers have proven to be invaluable tools for following and deciphering the CD8(+) T cell response, but the development of similar reagents for detection of CD4(+) T cells based on class II MHC proteins has been more difficult. We evaluated fluorescent streptavidin-based oligomers of HLA-DR1 for use as reagents to analyze Ag-specific human CD4(+) T cells. Staining was blocked at low temperatures and by drugs that disrupt microfilament formation and endocytosis. Cell-associated MHC oligomers were resistant to a surface stripping protocol and were observed by microscopy in intracellular compartments. This behavior indicates that detection of CD4(+) T cells using class II MHC oligomers can depend on an active cellular process in which T cells cluster and/or endocytose their Ag receptors. T cells of identical specificity but in different activation states varied greatly in their ability to be detected by class II MHC oligomers.

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