The role of the accessory cell in optimizing T cell proliferative responses to mitogens is a well known but poorly understood phenomenon. To further dissect the function of the accessory cell in allowing T cell proliferation, we compared mitogen-induced c-myc, interleukin 2 (IL 2), and IL 2 receptor gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and in T cells rigorously depleted of accessory cells through differential adherence and anti-Dr (anti-class II major histocompatibility antigen) monoclonal antibody complement-directed cytotoxicity. In cultures stimulated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA), a mitogen that requires accessory cells to induce T cell proliferation, expression of all measured genes was accessory cell dependent, since accumulation of their mRNA in PBMC was greater than that in cultures depleted of accessory cells. These genes varied in their accessory cell dependence, with IL 2 expression most dependent, c-myc expression least dependent, and IL 2 receptor expression intermediate in dependency. Use of 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or ionomycin, mitogens that stimulate T cell proliferation independent of accessory cells, induced equal levels of gene expression in PBMC and in T cells depleted of accessory cells. These results suggest that PHA-stimulated T cells are dependent on an accessory cell signal(s) for optimal expression of the genes for c-myc, IL 2, and IL 2 receptor, and for proliferation. In addition, this signal(s) appears to be delivered early in the course of T cell activation events, since it can be bypassed by mitogens that directly activate protein kinase C (TPA) or induce calcium translocation (ionomycin). In addition, these data provide further evidence that expression of the c-myc protooncogene is insufficient for T cell mitogenesis, since PHA-induced accumulation of c-myc mRNA was only partially accessory cell dependent, whereas proliferation was completely accessory-cell dependent.

This content is only available via PDF.