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Hum Immunol. 2010 Jan;71(1):23-8. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2009.09.360.

Co-engagement of alpha(4)beta(1) integrin (VLA-4) and CD4 or CD8 is necessary to induce maximal Erk1/2 phosphorylation and cytokine production in human T cells.

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Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program, University of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


The alpha(4)beta(1) integrin VLA-4 (very-late activation antigen-4) and the lineage-specific CD4 and CD8 receptors have been proposed as putative co-stimulatory receptors on T cells. To assess the relative contribution of signaling through the TCR, CD28 and these accessory molecules, we activated human T cells using soluble antibodies recognizing all four of these T-cell receptor classes (CD3, CD28, CD4/CD8, and VLA-4), and we assessed the degree of activation using higher-order flow cytometry detecting intracellular Erk1/2 phosphorylation and production of IL-2 and IFN-gamma. We found that: (1) co-stimulation via CD4/CD8, in addition to CD28, is required for optimal T-cell activation; (2) VLA-4 binding consistently potentiates CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell activation; (3) augmentation of T-cell activation through VLA-4 binding is most pronounced following engagement of CD4/CD8. These results confirm that multiple signals, including VLA-4 engagement, are necessary for maximal T-cell activation beyond that induced via the TCR and CD28.

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