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J Immunol. 1988 May 1;140(9):2912-8.

CD4 molecules are associated with the antigen receptor complex on activated but not resting T cells.

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Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305.


To explore the relationship between CD4 and CD3/Ti on the T cell surface, we have studied a panel of Ag-specific Th cell lines and clones, as well as resting and mitogen-activated CD4+ cells. Our results show that exposure of Th cells to their specific antigenic stimuli, but not to irrelevant stimuli, induced the rapid disappearance of approximately 20 to 35% of CD3 and CD4 molecules. The modulation of these molecules was detected in less than 1 h, became maximal at 12 h, and recovered thereafter in parallel. Treatment of Th cells with anti-CD4 antibody prevented Ag-induced modulation of CD3, and treatment with anti-CD3 blocked modulation of CD4. In the absence of Ag, treatment of these cells with an antibody (WT-31) directed at a conformational determinant within CD3/Ti or with the combination of anti-CD3 antibody and goat anti-mouse Ig, also resulted in significant modulation of CD4. Similar treatment of PHA-activated CD4+ T cells with anti-CD3/Ti antibodies also induced CD4 modulation; however, the same antibodies failed to affect CD4 expression on fresh resting T cells. These results indicate that on activated, but not resting T cells, CD4 molecules can be physically associated with CD3/Ti. We postulate that this association is essential for efficient Th cell activation, and further that the ability of anti-CD4 antibodies to inhibit helper functions is due to their prevention of CD4-CD3/Ti interaction on the T cell surface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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