Previous studies have demonstrated that natural killer (NK) cells express the glycolipid asialo GM1, as evidenced by the sensitivity of NK cells to treatment with anti-asialo GM1 serum and complement. Because alloimmune cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) were found to be insensitive to treatment with anti-asialo GM1 serum and complement, it was concluded that asialo GM1 is expressed by NK but not by CTL. However, fluorescence studies indicated that a significant proportion of peripheral T cells did express asialo GM1. Flow cytometric studies were undertaken to determine the extent to which alloimmune CTL express asialo GM1. Affinity-purified, monospecific IgG anti-asialo GM1 antibodies were used to label cells from mixed lymphocyte cultures. Separation of asialo GM1-positive and -negative fractions by cell sorting revealed that the majority of CTL activity resides in the asialo GM1-positive population. When these studies are compared with similar studies of splenic NK activity, it is apparent that, despite the relative insensitivity of CTL to treatment with anti-asialo GM1 and complement, both CTL and NK activity are enriched in the asialo GM1-positive cell population obtained by cell sorting.

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