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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Apr;28(4):1292-300.

Activation-induced NK cell death triggered by CD2 stimulation.

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Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Both T cells and natural killer (NK) cells express CD2, the target of an alternative activation pathway that induces the proliferation of both cell types. The mitogenic response to CD2 ligation requires the co-expression of CD3:TCR in T cells and FcgammaRIII in NK cells, suggesting that these receptors are involved in transducing the response initiated by CD2. The ability of FcgammaRIII to trigger the activation-induced death of IL-2-primed NK cells led us to investigate the potential for CD2 to trigger activation-induced NK cell death. Our results reveal that the same anti-CD2 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) that activate freshly isolated NK cells induce apoptosis in IL-2-primed NK cells. CD2-induced apoptosis results in chromatin condensation, DNA fragmentation and cleavage of caspase-3. Activation-induced NK cell death triggered by CD2 ligation is extremely rapid (DNA fragmentation is first observed at 90 min) and it is not inhibited by neutralizing antibodies reactive with TNF-alpha or Fas ligand. Whereas mAb reactive with distinct CD2 epitopes (i.e. T11.1, T11.2, and T11.3) are required for activation-induced T cell death, mAb reactive with a single CD2 epitope are sufficient for activation-induced NK cell death. The ability of CD2, CD16, and CD94 to induce apoptosis in IL-2-primed lymphocytes suggests that cytokine priming changes the response to a signaling cascade that is common to each of these activation receptors.

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