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J Immunol. 2002 Nov 15;169(10):5531-7.

Release and intercellular transfer of cell surface CD81 via microparticles.

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Divisions of Applied Tumorvirology, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Heidelberg, Germany.


The human tetraspan molecule CD81 is a coreceptor in B and T cell activation and a candidate receptor for hepatitis C virus infection. We examined the surface expression of CD81 on B and T lymphocytes by quantitative flow cytometry. Upon cellular activation, CD81 surface levels were rapidly reduced. This reduction occurred as early as 1 h after activation and was linked to the release of CD81-positive microparticles into the cell culture medium. CD81 mRNA levels were not affected early after activation, but the release of CD81-positive microparticles was rapidly enhanced. In addition, intercellular transfer of CD81 was observed upon coculture of CD81-positive donor cells (Jurkat T cell line) with CD81-negative acceptor cells (U937 promonocytic cell line). This transfer was rapidly increased upon T cell activation, coinciding with enhanced CD81 release from activated Jurkat cells. We propose that the release and intercellular trafficking of CD81-positive microparticles regulate the expression of CD81 surface receptors in lymphocytes and play a role in the immune response during infections.

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