Activation of T cells often requires both activation signals delivered by ligation of the TCR and those resulting from costimulatory interactions between certain T cell surface accessory molecules and their respective counter-receptors on APC. CD11a/CD18 complex on T cells modulate the activation of T cells by interacting with its counter-receptors intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) (CD54) and/or ICAM-2 on the surface of APC. The costimulatory ability of ICAM-1 has been demonstrated. Using a soluble ICAM-2 Ig fusion protein (receptor globulin, Rg) we demonstrate the costimulatory effect of ICAM-2 during the activation of CD4+ T cells. When coimmobilized with anti-TCR-1 mAb ICAM-2 Rg induced vigorous proliferative response of CD4+ T cells. This costimulatory effect of ICAM-2 was dependent on its coimmobilization with mAb directed at the CD3/TCR complex but not those directed at CD2 or CD28. Both resting as well as Ag-primed CD4+ T cells responded to the costimulatory effects of ICAM-2. The addition of mAb directed at the CD11a or CD18 molecules almost completely inhibited the responses to ICAM-2 Rg. These results are consistent with the role of CD11a/CD18 complex as a receptor for ICAM-2 mediating its costimulatory effects. Stimulation of T cells with coimmobilized anti-TCR-1 and ICAM-2 resulted in the induction of IL-2R (CD25), and anti-Tac (CD25) mAb inhibited this response suggesting the contribution of endogenously synthesized IL-2 during this stimulation. These results demonstrate that like its homologue ICAM-1, ICAM-2 also exerts a strong costimulatory effect during the TCR-initiated activation of T cells. The costimulatory effects generated by the CD11a/CD18:ICAM-2 interaction may be critical during the initiation of T cell activation by ICAM-1low APC.

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