We report a new, monocyte-independent system for the induction of activation and proliferation of human T cells in response to murine hybridomas expressing the OKT3 monoclonal antibody (OKT3 hybridomas). Incubation of nylon-wool-nonadherent (NA) lymphocytes or purified T cells with OKT3 hybridomas resulted in interleukin-2 (IL-2) production, expression of IL-2 receptor, modulation of the CD3 antigen, and proliferation. In contrast, murine hybridomas (OKT4, OKT8, anti-HLA-DR, and others) expressing monoclonal antibodies (mAb) other than OKT3 did not induce T-cell activation and proliferation. T cells did not respond to OKT3 mAb alone. OKT3 hybridomas alone did not produce interleukin-1 (IL-1) or other soluble factors that might be involved in the induction of IL-2 production by T cells, and they did not contain membrane-bound IL-1. In addition, IL-1 activity was not detected in cultures of NA-lymphocytes and OKT3 hybridomas, clearly demonstrating that IL-1 was not required, at least in this system, for T-cell activation and proliferation. Direct cell-cell contact between T cells and OKT3 hybridomas was required for IL-2 production. Thirty to fifty percent of T cells formed conjugates with the OKT3 hybridomas but not with the OKT4 or OKT8 hybridomas. Both conjugate formation and IL-2 production were significantly inhibited by the OKT3 mAb and by the anti-LFA-1 mAb. The cells responsible for IL-2 production were found to be of the T3+ T4+ T8- Leu 7- Leu 11- phenotype. IL-2 activity produced by NA-lymphocytes in response to OKT3 hybridomas became detectable as early as 1 hr and reached a maximum by 8 hr, preceding IL-2 receptor expression, modulation of the CD3 antigen, and [3H]thymidine incorporation of T cells. T cells produced higher concentrations of IL-2 in response to OKT3 hybridomas than in response to equal numbers of monocytes and OKT3 mAb. Addition of monocytes to cultures of T cells and OKT3 hybridomas resulted in suppression of IL-2 production in a concentration-dependent manner, suggesting that monocytes regulate the levels of IL-2 production. This monocyte-independent system may be useful for further dissection of T-cell activation and proliferation and its regulation by monocytes.
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