Tp103 is a 103-kDa T cell activation molecule that defines an alternative activation signal for human T lymphocytes. It is absent from or present in only low amounts on resting T cells but is expressed strongly after activation. Cross-linking of Tp103 via a mAb CB.1 leads to triggering of functional activities in preactivated CD3+ T lymphocytes. By using mAb CB.1 in immunohistology we found that Tp103 is expressed in epithelial cells of various tissues, such as kidney, prostate, epidermis and on endothelia of liver, spleen, lungs, and most vessels, and in bile duct canaliculi in the liver. We found a carcinoma cell line expressing Tp103 and could precipitate a 110-kDa molecule from the surface of these cells. We considered several known molecules of similar distribution and molecular mass for identity with Tp103 and show here that Tp103 is probably identical to the proteolytic enzyme dipeptidyl aminopeptidase IV. When we purified Tp103 by affinity chromatography, typical dipeptidyl aminopeptidase IV activity copurified with Tp103. On activated T cells the enzymatic activity associated with Tp103 is expressed on the outside of the cell. We show that mAb CB.1 recognizes the same molecule as the anti-CD26 mAb anti-Ta1. The anti-Ta1 mAb was found to have T cell-activating activity too, but to differ in its requirements for triggering of T lymphocytes.

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