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Developmental Immunology
Volume 2 (1992), Issue 2, Pages 161-173

A Novel Adhesion Molecule in the Murine Thymic Microenvironment: Functional and Biochemical Analysis

1Department of Immunology, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 ONN, UK
2National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London NW71AA, UK

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The rat monoclonal antibody (mAb) 4F1, raised against mouse thymic stromal cells, recognizes cortical epithelium in tissue sections of mouse thymus; however, in flow cytometry, activated leucocytes (T cells, B cells, and macrophages) and transformed thymocytes are also positive for the 4F1-antigen (4F1-Ag). Western blotting, under both reducing and nonreducing conditions, demonstrates that the molecule to which 4F1 binds is expressed in four forms, 29, 32, 40, and 43 kD, all of which carry N-linked carbohydrate; and that the structure is identical on epithelium and lymphocytes. The 4F1-Ag on cortical epithelium is partially sensitive to PI-PLC treatment, whereas on transformed epithelial and lymphoid cell lines, it was resistant to this enzyme. The molecule, therefore, may exist in both transmembrane and phosphoinositol-linked forms. In functional blocking experiments, mAb 4F1 gave inhibition of both T-cell proliferation in MLR and of cytotoxic T-cell killing of alloantigenic targets; it also blocked adhesion of transformed thymocytes to thymic epithelial cells in vitro. These molecular and functional characteristics suggest that the 4F1-Ag is a novel adhesion molecule that may be involved both in intrathymic T lymphocyte differentiation and in peripheral T-cell function.