Target Cell Events Initiated by T-Cell Attack

  • John H. Russell
  • Scott I. Abrams


The interaction between the thymus-derived lymphocyte (T cell) and its antigen-bearing target cell represents a model of contact-initiated intercellular communication. The unique feature of T cells is that they have evolved to distinguish self from nonself at the cellular level. That is, they do not recognize foreign antigens such as viruses as an entity alone, but rather they recognize aberrant neighboring cells as a perturbation of what they have “learned” as self. The basis of this self-perception is the conformation of complexes of peptides bound to a set of cell surface MHC (major histocompatibility complex) proteins unique to each individual. Activated T cells constantly sample neighboring cells in their environment for alterations in the conformation of these MHC complexes (Chang et al., 1979). Detection of “foreign” peptide-altered MHC complexes (e.g., on a virally infected cell) triggers the activation of a program of differentiated function within the T cell. In this chapter we will outline how the choice of antigen-bearing target cells and methods of assay have been used to explore the spectrum of functional T-cell activities resulting from the T cell-target interaction.


Cytolytic Granule Nuclear Lesion Induce Target Cell Granule Protease 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Russell
  • Scott I. Abrams

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