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Immunology. 1994 Dec;83(4):573-81.

Characterization of CMRF-44, a novel monoclonal antibody to an activation antigen expressed by the allostimulatory cells within peripheral blood, including dendritic cells.

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Haematology/Immunology Research Group, Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand.


Dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APC) involved in the initiation of primary T-lymphocyte responses. However, despite their importance, no DC-specific surface marker has been identified in humans and many aspects of their ontogeny and the mechanisms underlying their potent functional activity remain unknown. In this report we describe a novel monoclonal antibody (mAb), CMRF-44, which recognizes an early activation antigen expressed by human DC and acts as a marker of allostimulatory activity within preparations of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). The CMRF-44 antigen was expressed strongly on DC isolated from blood and tonsil by standard techniques, but was not detectable on Langerhans' cells within skin or on DC isolated directly from blood using a cell-sorting method which involves minimal DC manipulation/activation. Normal resting peripheral blood leucocytes did not label with CMRF-44, although weak staining of a small subpopulation (15%) of blood B lymphocytes was identified by double labelling. However, following overnight culture at 37 degrees, moderate staining of a subpopulation of PBMC was detected. Confirmation that CMRF-44 recognized an early marker of activated DC and hence allostimulatory activity was obtained by sorting cultured cell preparations on the basis of CMRF-44 reactivity. A marked enrichment of allostimulatory activity was observed in the CMRF-44-positive cellular population, whereas the CMRF-44-negative cells showed only minimal stimulatory activity. Activation studies established that the CMRF-44 antigen was an early activation marker, expressed constitutively on the majority of tonsil B lymphocytes, which can be induced on peripheral blood B lymphocytes and subpopulations of monocytes. Expression of the CMRF-44 antigen on cell lines was similarly restricted, CMRF-44 antigen being detected only on Hodgkin's disease-derived and B-lymphoid lines. The cellular distribution, expression kinetics and biochemical characteristics of the CMRF-44 antigen identify it as a new early marker of activated allostimulatory (DC) populations.

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