Disruption of intrathymic CD4-Ia interactions on immature CD4+CD8+ thymocytes results in diminished TCR expression on mature CD8+ T cell progeny.
Cell surface TCR expression by developing thymocytes is actively regulated during ontogeny. Whereas most immature CD4+CD8+ thymocytes express low levels of TCR alpha beta, mature CD4+ and CD8+ thymocytes express significantly higher levels of surface TCR. Low TCR expression on CD4+CD8+ thymocytes is due, at least in part, to inhibitory signals generated by CD4 interactions with MHC class II ligands in the thymus. In the present study we wished to determine whether levels of TCR expressed on mature thymocytes were also influenced by CD4-Ia interactions that had occurred on their CD4+CD8+ precursors. To do so, we examined TCR expression on mature CD8+ T cells from animals in which CD4-ligand interactions had been disrupted experimentally by in vivo administration of anti-CD4 mAb or by targeted disruption of an MHC class II gene. We found that TCR expression was significantly diminished on all mature CD8+ T cells from both anti-CD4 mAb-treated mice and MHC class II-deficient animals. These results demonstrate that TCR expression by mature CD8+ T cells, as well as that of immature CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, is regulated by CD4-mediated signals acting on CD4+CD8+ thymocytes. Because the effects of disrupting CD4-Ia interactions on TCR expression by CD8+ T cells were independent of TCR specificity, these findings directly support the concept that CD4-CD8+ T cells arise from precursor CD4+CD8+ cells.
Roberts, JL; Sharrow, SO; Singer, A
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