Rare CD8+ T cells present in beta2microglobulin-deficient (beta2m-/-) mice reject allogeneic tumors but not syngeneic wild-type tumors. The lack of syngeneic tumor rejection in vivo is correlated with a partial response of beta2m-/- CD8+ cell lines to syngeneic tumor cells in vitro. This partial response is characterized by perforin/granzyme-mediated cytolytic activity in the absence of cytokine secretion or proliferation. Allogeneic tumors induce cytolysis, cytokine secretion, and proliferation. Cytokine secretion may therefore be an important effector mechanism for tumor rejection by CD8+ T cells. To determine the missing signaling events needed for cytokine secretion as well as the events inducing the isolated cytotoxic response, we attempted to restore cytokine secretion of beta2m-/- CD8+ cells to syngeneic MHC class I. Phorbol ester and syngeneic tumor cells acted synergistically to induce full responsiveness of beta2m-/- CD8+ cells. However, this synergistic induction of cytokine secretion used a different pathway than that induced by alloantigen. Protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor prevented the syngeneic class I plus PMA-induced cytokine secretion, but not allo-class I-induced cytokine secretion. In contrast to the PKC independent alloantigen-induced cytokine secretion, cytolysis of both allogeneic and syngeneic targets was PKC dependent. The differential dependence of effector functions on PKC activation was also found in beta2m+/+ CD8+ T cells. Thus, two distinct signaling pathways (PKC dependent and PKC independent) may ultimately converge to induce cytokine secretion in CD8+ cells. The TCR engagement-initiated pathway is PKC independent, whereas the phorbol ester-activated pathway is PKC dependent.

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