Modulation of VLA integrins was studied in several human T cell clones upon specific and nonspecific cellular activation. Human activated T lymphocytes down-regulated both alpha 4 beta 1 and alpha 4 beta 7 integrins upon specific recognition of alloantigens (cytotoxic T cells) or in the presence of Staphylococcus enterotoxin B (superantigen recognizing noncytotoxic T cells). In contrast, the expression of other membrane integrins, such as VLA-1 and VLA-5 integrins, was not modified. Down-regulation of alpha 4 beta 1 and alpha 4 beta 7 integrins was observed as early as 3 h after stimulation, lasted later than 72 h and was partially inhibited by cytochalasin D. Interestingly, neither target cells nor NK cells modulated CD49d expression after interaction with T cells of K562, respectively, suggesting that CD49d expression was linked to specific T cell activation. The down-regulation of the CD49d chain in T cell clones stimulated with immobilized anti-CD3 mAbs confirmed the role of TCR-mediated activation in CD49d regulation. However, the CD3-independent cellular aggregation induced by soluble anti-CD43 mAb was also able to strongly down-regulate alpha 4 beta 1 and alpha 4 beta 7. The present work shows the first evidence that CD49d subunit-bearing integrin expression is distinctly regulated from other integrins after Ag or superantigen recognition by human activated T cells. CD49d modulation may be relevant for the traffic and tissue localization of locally activated T cells during immune responses.

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