Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), a monovalent T cell mitogen and inducer of T suppressor cells, was found to be a potent polyclonal activator of cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) effective against concanavalin A (Con A)-treated target cells. In addition to polyclonal stimulation of CTL, SEB could reactivate "memory" CTL, alloimmunized 60 to 90 days earlier, into "secondary" CTL detectable as early as 24 hr after onset of stimulation and specific for the original priming target cells. Optimal cytolytic activity was induced at 0.5 to 10 micrograms/ml SEB; optimal priming time was 3 days, correlating well with the proliferative activity and morphologic transformation of small lymphocytes into large T lymphoblasts. Long-term cultures of splenocytes, stimulated by SEB, continued to express high cytolytic activity. It is noteworthy that although SEB and Con A are comparable CTL inducers, SEB, unlike Con A, is an ineffective mediator of nonspecific, CTL/target cell interactions. To the best of our knowledge this is the first example of a CTL inducer unable to mediate CTL-target interaction and lysis. The latter observations suggests that different receptors are involved in CTL activation and in CTL-target interaction resulting in lysis.

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