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Blood. 2008 Feb 1;111(3):1610-6. Epub 2007 Nov 9.

Antigen activation and impaired Fas-induced death-inducing signaling complex formation in T-large-granular lymphocyte leukemia.

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Penn State Cancer Institute, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Penn State University, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Clonal T-cell expansion in patients with T-large-granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia occurs by an undefined mechanism that may be related to Fas apoptosis resistance. Here, we demonstrate polarized expansion of CD8(+) terminal-memory differentiation in such patients, as demonstrated by CD45RA expression and absence of CD62L expression, suggesting repeated stimulation by antigen in vivo. Elimination of antigen-stimulated T cells normally occurs through Fas-mediated apoptosis. We show that cells from LGL leukemia patients express increased levels of c-FLIP and display resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis and abridged recruitment of proteins that comprise the death-inducing signaling complex (DISC), including the Fas-associated protein with death-domain (FADD) and caspase-8. Exposure to interleukin-2 (IL-2) for only 24 hours sensitized leukemic LGL to Fas-mediated apoptosis with enhanced formation of the DISC, and increased caspase-8 and caspase-3 activities. We observed dysregulation of c-FLIP by IL-2 in leukemic LGL, suggesting a role in Fas resistance. Our results demonstrate that expanded T cells in patients with LGL leukemia display both functional and phenotypic characteristics of prior antigen activation in vivo and display reduced capacity for Fas-mediated DISC formation.

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