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J Immunol. 1998 Jun 15;160(12):5749-56.

Immunologic characterization of CD7-deficient mice.

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Department of Medicine, and Duke University Arthritis Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Human CD7 is an Ig superfamily molecule that is expressed on mature T and NK lymphocytes. Although in vitro studies have suggested a role for CD7 in lymphoid development and function, the exact function of CD7 in vivo has remained elusive. One patient has been reported with SCID syndrome attributed to CD7 deficiency. To study in vivo functions of CD7, we have generated CD7-deficient mice and assessed their lymphoid development and function. CD7-deficient mice were viable, had normal peripheral blood and spleen lymphocyte numbers, and had normal specific Ab responses with Ag-driven Ig isotype switching. Thymocyte numbers were normal in 4-wk-old, 6-mo-old, and 1-yr-old CD7-deficient mice, but in 3-mo-old CD7-deficient mice, total thymocyte numbers were significantly increased by 60% (p < 0.02) compared with normal age-matched +/+ littermates. CD7-deficient splenocytes proliferated normally in response to various mitogens, including PHA, anti-CD3, Con A, and LPS. While NK cell numbers and cytolytic activity to YAC targets were normal, CD7-deficient mice had lower Ag-induced MHC class I-restricted CTL activity against OVA-transfected target cells than did +/+ control mice. Thus, CD7-deficient mice did not have a SCID syndrome, but rather had transient increases in thymocyte numbers at age 3 mo and altered splenocyte Ag-specific CTL effecter cell activity. These data suggest a role for CD7 in regulating intrathymic T cell development and in mediating CTL effecter function.

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