Natural and Unnatural Killing by Cytolytic T Lymphocytes

  • K. Shortman
  • A. Wilson
Conference paper
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 126)


Cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) are armed with an effective mechanism for killing target cells. Delivery of the lethal hit involves target cell recognition and conjugate formation, and is normally a highly specific process dependent on the clonally distributed, antigen-specific, and MHC-restricted T-cell receptor. The selective aspect of the recognition stage may be bypassed by adding to the cytotoxic assay a lectin (such as phytohemagglutinin [PHA] or concanavalin A [Con A]), in which case CTL will kill most target cells susceptible to the lethal hit mechanism. Until recently this seemed the only way the specificity of the T-cell receptor could be bypassed. However, there are now numerous reports of circumstances where cultured clones of mouse, rat, and human CTL lose specificity, and generally behave as if some lectin had been added to promote killing of a wide range of target cells (Shortman et al. 1983; Brooks 1983; Brooks et al. 1983; Simon et al. 1984; Teh and Yu 1983; Binz et al. 1983; Masucci et al. 1980; Santoli et al. 1981; Toribio et al. 1983; Moretta et al. 1984; van de Griend et al. 1984; Burns et al. 1984). This report summarizes our analysis of the “unnatural” or “nonspecific” killing by murine CTL, which leads us to the conclusion that two different “broad specificity” receptors may be expressed when CTL develop in culture, additional to the clonally distributed antigen-specific T-cell receptor.


Mouse Strain Difference Direct Cytolysis Syngeneic Target Responder Spleen Cell Xenogeneic Target 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Shortman
    • 1
  • A. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Post OfficeRoyal Melbourne HospitalVictoriaAustralia

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