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Detection of rare antigen-presenting cells by the lacZ T-cell activation assay suggests an expression cloning strategy for T-cell antigens.

Authors
  • Karttunen, J
  • Sanderson, S
  • Shastri, N
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1992
Volume
89
Issue
13
Pages
6020–6024
Identifiers
PMID: 1378619
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The alpha/beta T-cell receptor a complex ligand formed by the association of antigenic peptides with molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The inherent limitations of the conventional T-cell activation assays used to detect these peptide/MHC ligands have, until now, hampered the development of expression cloning systems for T-cell antigens. To overcome these limitations, we have recently introduced a method for detecting ligand-induced activation of individual T cells. This assay, which makes use of a lacZ reporter construct, differs from conventional ligand-induced activation assays in that it allows the detection of single, activated T cells in large pools of resting cells. We applied the lacZ assay to the problem of screening expression libraries, which requires the ability to detect ligand-bearing antigen-presenting cells when they are present at very low frequency. We show here that ligand-expressing antigen-presenting cells can be detected at frequencies of 1:10(3)-10(4), a level of sensitivity compatible with the screening of cDNA libraries. Furthermore, by using as antigen-presenting cells COS-7 cells stably transfected with the murine Kb class I MHC molecule, we demonstrate that transiently expressed ovalbumin is efficiently processed and presented to an ovalbumin/Kb-specific T-cell hybridoma. lacZ expression is induced in a detectable number of cocultured T cells, even when the ovalbumin cDNA consists of only 1:10(4) of the total DNA used to transfect the COS cells. These results suggest that unknown T-cell antigens may be identified by screening cDNA libraries in MHC-expressing COS cells using lacZ-inducible T cells as indicators of peptide antigen expression.

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