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Cell Immunol. 2002 Jan;215(1):32-44.

Missing HLA class I expression on Daudi cells unveils cytotoxic and proliferative responses of human gammadelta T lymphocytes.

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Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, University of Munich, Germany.


The major subset of human blood gammadelta T lymphocytes expresses the variable-region genes Vgamma9 and Vdelta2. These cells recognize non-peptidic phosphoantigens that are present in some microbial extracts, as well as the beta(2)-microglobulin-deficient Burkitt's lymphoma Daudi. Most cytotoxic human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cells express inhibitory natural killer cell receptors for HLA class I that downmodulate the responses of the gammadelta T lymphocytes against HLA class I expressing cells. In this study we show that transfection of the human beta(2)-microglobulin cDNA into Daudi cells markedly inhibits the cytotoxic and proliferative responses of human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cells. This provides direct evidence that the "innate" specificity of human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T-lymphocytes for Daudi cells is uncovered by the loss of beta(2)m by Daudi. However, Daudi cells that express HLA class I in association with mouse beta(2)m at the cell surface are recognized by human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cells close to the same degree as the parental HLA class I deficient Daudi cell line. Thus, proper conformation of the HLA class I molecules is required for binding to natural killer cell receptors. Cloning of the HLA class I A, B, and C molecules of Daudi cells and transfer of the individual HLA class I molecules of Daudi cells into the HLA class I deficient recipient cell lines.221 and C1R demonstrate that for some human gammadelta T-cell clones cytolysis can be entirely inhibited by single HLA class I alleles while for other clones single HLA class I alleles only partially inhibit cytotoxicity. Thus, most human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cells represent a population of killer cells that evolved like NK cells to destroy target cells that have lost expression of individual HLA class I molecules but with a specificity that is determined by the Vgamma9/Vdelta2 TCR.

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