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Blood. 1998 Jan 1;91(1):165-72.

Further analysis of interleukin-2 receptor subunit expression on the different human peripheral blood mononuclear cell subsets.

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Unité d'Immunogénétique Cellulaire, Département d'Immunologie, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


We have investigated the expression of the three components of the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2Ralpha, IL-2Rbeta, and IL-2Rgamma) on the surface of the various peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) subsets by flow cytometry analysis. The PBMC were immediately isolated (ficoll) from blood collected on heparin as anticoagulant. The three IL-2R components are absent or only marginally detectable on CD4 T lymphocytes. No expression of the IL-2R chains is found for the B lymphocytes. In most donors, the three chains are not detectable on CD8 T lymphocytes, but for a few of them, IL-2Rbeta or IL-2Rgamma are clearly expressed. CD56 high (IL-2Ralpha+) and CD56 low (IL-2Ralpha-) natural killer (NK) cells express IL-2Rbeta, but not IL-2Rgamma. IL-2Rgamma is expressed by monocytes of all donors although with variable intensity. When blood is collected on other anticoagulants or when cells are isolated 1 day after collection, IL-2Ralpha, IL-2Rbeta, and IL-2Rgamma are largely expressed on the surface of most PBMC. This observation provides a possible explanation for divergent data previously reported on IL-2R expression. Finally, we show that IL-2Rgamma, which is not detectable on the cell surface of lymphocytes, is nevertheless expressed and stored as an intracellular component. This result is in agreement with the constitutive expression of the IL-2Rgamma gene and suggests a specific regulatory mechanism for IL-2Rgamma membrane translocation.

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