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Int Immunol. 2002 Jun;14(6):605-13.

The genes for perforin, granzymes A-C and IFN-gamma are differentially expressed in single CD8(+) T cells during primary activation.

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The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland 4029, Australia.


Here we show that the genes for perforin, the three major T cell granzymes (A-C) and IFN-gamma are differentially expressed during primary activation of naive CD8(+) T cells, kinetically and at the single-cell level. When CD44(low)CD62L(high)CD8(+) lymph node T cells were activated with IL-2 and immobilized antibodies to CD3, CD8 and CD11a, expression of perforin, granzyme B and IFN-gamma mRNAs was induced by day 2, and increased in parallel with perforin-dependent cytolytic activity. Granzyme C and A transcripts were not detected until 1 and 3 days later respectively. Single-cell PCR showed that expression frequencies rose in parallel with total levels of each mRNA, but that individual cells expressed diverse combinations of perforin, granzyme A-C and IFN-gamma mRNAs. These expression patterns indicated that the delayed expression of granzymes A and C was not due to late activation of distinct cell subpopulations. Statistical analysis of the data suggested that each gene was differentially regulated at the single-cell level. Individual naive CD8(+) T cells gave rise over 7 days to clones that expressed all five products at the clonal level, but also expressed diverse combinations at the single-cell level. We conclude that, during primary activation, CD8(+) T cells progressively acquired the ability to express most or all of these genes, and that the variable expression patterns observed among single cells within clones and populations reflected transient rather than heritable differences in expression profile.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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