The potential role of Thy-1 in CD3/TCR complex-mediated signal delivery to murine thymocytes was studied. Ag-mimicking cross-linked anti-CD3 mAb stimulated suspension of thymocytes from adult (6 to 8 wk old) mice for a brisk free cytoplasmic calcium ion ([Ca2+]i) rise, low level of inositol phosphate production, and marginal increase in tyrosine-specific phosphorylation of 110/120-kDa and 40-kDa cellular proteins. Weak but sustained [Ca2+]i rise, low inositol phosphate production, and weak protein tyrosine phosphorylation were also induced by the cross-linked anti-Thy-1 mAb that mimicked the putative natural ligand. The signal delivered via either of these two pathways was however insufficient for definitively promoting cell death and DNA fragmentation in the adult thymocytes. Here we demonstrated that anti-Thy-1 mAb synergized with anti-CD3 mAb for inducing a long-lasting prominent [Ca2+]i rise, definite inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate and inositol 1,3,4,5-tetrakiphosphate production, and extensive tyrosine-specific phosphorylation of 110/120-, 92-, 75-, and 40-kDa proteins, which resulted in marked promotion of cell death and DNA fragmentation in the adult thymocytes. This unique anti-Thy-1 antibody activity was confirmed to be directed to glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Thy-1, and was distinguished from the known anti-L3T4 activity that augmented the CD3-mediated signal transduction in a different manner. The synergistic actions of anti-CD3 and anti-Thy-1 mAb obligatorily required the cross-linking of the two mAb together. The anti-CD3 and anti-Thy-1 mAb cross-linked together acted on immature thymocytes from newborn (less than 24 h after birth) mice for rather more extensive promotion of protein tyrosine phosphorylation and cell death. In addition, they affected peripheral T lymphocytes for accelerating protein tyrosine phosphorylation but not cell death. These results suggest a novel function of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Thy-1 as a possible unique intrathymic intensifier of the CD3/TCR complex-delivered signal for negative thymocyte selection.

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