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Nature. 1989 Nov 2;342(6245):85-7.

A glycophospholipid anchor is required for Qa-2-mediated T cell activation.

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Transplantation Biology Section, Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.


A number of lymphocyte surface proteins are anchored in the cell membrane by glycophosphatidyl inositol (known as GPI) linkages instead of hydrophobic protein domains. Treatment of mouse T lymphocytes with antibodies specific for two such proteins, Thy-1 and Ly-6, are known to induce proliferation. We have found that antibodies specific for Qa-2, a GPI-anchored class I histocompatibility antigen, can also activate mouse T cells. To determine whether the GPI-anchor is important for this pathway of cell activation, we produced transgenic mice expressing either normal GPI-anchored Qa-2, or Qa-2 molecules with a membrane-spanning protein domain derived from H-2. Our studies show that only lymphocytes from transgenic mice carrying GPI-anchored forms of Qa-2 can be activated in vitro by Qa-2-specific antibodies. We also show that transgenic mouse T cells expressing a GPI-anchored form of H-2Db can be activated by anti-H-2Db antibodies. These results strongly indicate that the GPI-anchor is critical for this pathway of T cell activation.

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