The vast majority of circulating lymphocytes that express the alpha,beta TCR in association with CD3 also express either CD4 or CD8 molecules, which are thought to act as important accessory structures in HLA class II- and I-restricted T cell functions, respectively. In the current study alpha,beta TCR+ clones devoid of detectable CD4 or CD8 were generated by repeated stimulation of fresh CD3+,CD4-,CD8- cells with an allogeneic lymphoblastoid cell line in the presence of conditioned medium containing IL-2. Except for the absence of CD4 and CD8, which was associated with undetectable levels of CD4 and CD8 mRNA, the clones were phenotypically indistinguishable from classical CD3+,alpha,beta TCR+ cells. Furthermore, they mediated potent cytolysis of their specific stimulator line but did not kill irrelevant LCL or NK-sensitive targets. mAb to CD3 and the alpha,beta TCR inhibited cytolysis, suggesting that the clones use the TCR/CD3 complex to recognize and respond to their targets. mAbs to CD2 and CD11a also inhibited cytolysis, indicating that the clones use these accessory molecules to interact with their targets. Finally, cytolysis was inhibited by an HLA-A,B,C framework-specific mAb (W6/32) as well as a mAb (MA2.1) specific for an HLA-A2 epitope. These results demonstrate that CD3+,alpha,beta TCR+,CD4-,CD8- cytotoxic clones can be generated from the peripheral blood of healthy adults, and use their TCR/CD3 complexes to function in an HLA class I-restricted manner.

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