Thymocyte LFA-1 and thymic epithelial cell ICAM-1 molecules mediate binding of activated human thymocytes to thymic epithelial cells.
We have investigated the binding in vitro of activated thymocytes to thymic epithelial (TE) cells, and studied the effect of up-regulation of TE cell surface intracellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and HLA-DR by IFN-gamma on the ability of TE cells to bind to both resting and activated human thymocytes. TE cell binding to activated and resting thymocytes was studied by using our previously described suspension assay of TE-thymocyte conjugate formation. We found that activated mature and immature thymocytes bound maximally at 37 degrees C to IFN-gamma-treated ICAM-1+ and HLA-DR+ TE cells and this TE-activated thymocyte binding was inhibited by antibodies to LFA-1 alpha-chain (CD11a) (68.1 +/- 5.6% inhibition, p less than 0.01) and ICAM-1 (73.9 +/- 7.7% inhibition, p less than 0.05). Neither anti-HLA-DR antibody L243 nor anti-MHC class I antibody 3F10 inhibited IFN-gamma-treated TE binding to activated thymocytes. As with antibodies to LFA-3 and CD2, antibodies to LFA-1 and ICAM-1 also inhibited PHA-induced mature thymocyte activation when accessory signals were provided by TE cells in vitro. Finally, LFA-1 and ICAM-1 were expressed early on in human thymic fetal ontogeny in patterns similar to those seen in postnatal thymus. Taken together, these data suggest that resting mature and immature thymocytes bind to TE cells via the CD2/LFA-3 ligand pair, whereas activated thymocytes bind via both CD2/LFA-3 and LFA-1/ICAM-1 ligand systems. We postulate that IFN-gamma produced intrathymically may regulate TE expression of ICAM-1 and therefore potentially may regulate TE cell binding to activated thymocytes beginning in the earliest stages of human thymic development.
Singer, KH; Denning, SM; Whichard, LP; Haynes, BF
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