The CD44 molecule, also known as Hermes lymphocyte homing receptor, human Pgp-1, and extracellular matrix receptor III, has been shown to play a role in T cell adhesion and activation. Specifically, anti-CD44 mAb block binding of lymphocytes to high endothelial venules, inhibit T cell-E rosetting, and augment T cell proliferation induced by the CD2 or CD3-TCR pathways. We have characterized an anti-CD44 mAb (212.3) which immunoprecipitates a 90-kDa protein and is specific for CD44 as shown by peptide mapping and antibody competition studies. Interestingly, our studies with 212.3 demonstrate that this CD44-specific mAb completely inhibits T cell proliferation stimulated by the anti-CD3 mAb, OKT3. Inhibition is not a result of reduced cell viability, but is associated with 1) inhibition of IL-2 production, 2) inhibition of IL-2R expression, and 3) inhibition of OKT3-mediated increases in intracellular Ca2+ levels. In addition, 212.3 does not inhibit proliferation by the T cell mitogens PHA or PWM nor does it inhibit proliferation in a mixed lymphocyte reaction. Similar to other anti-CD44 mAb, 212.3 also augments T cell proliferation induced by mAb directed against the T11(2) and T11(3) epitopes of CD2. Thus, these studies describe a novel CD44-specific mAb (212.3) that inhibits T cell activation by OKT3 by blocking early signal transduction. Furthermore, these studies suggest that "receptor cross-talk" between the CD3-TCR complex and CD44 may regulate T cell activation.

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