We evaluated CD2 (E rosette) and CD3 (T3)-triggered activation of resting lymphocytes by measuring the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) of individual cells. The [Ca2+]i of indo-1-loaded cells was measured by flow cytometry and responses were correlated with cell surface phenotype. Stimulation with anti-CD3 antibody caused an increase in [Ca2+]i in greater than 90% of CD3+ cells within 1 min, and furthermore, the response was restricted to cells bearing the CD3 marker. In contrast, stimulation of cells with anti-CD2 antibodies produced a biphasic response pattern with an early component in CD3- cells and a late component in CD3+ cells. Thus, the CD2 response does not require cell surface expression of CD3. In addition, stimulation of a single CD2 epitope was sufficient for activation of CD3- cells, whereas stimulation of two CD2 epitopes was required for activation of CD3+ cells. Both the CD2 and CD3 responses were diminished in magnitude and duration by EGTA. However, approximately 50% of T cells still had a brief response in the presence of EGTA, indicating that the increased [Ca2+]i results in part from intracellular calcium mobilization, and furthermore demonstrates that extracellular calcium is required for a full and sustained response. Our results support the concept that CD2 represents the trigger for a distinct pathway of activation both for T cells that express the CD3 molecular complex and for large granular lymphocytes that do not.
C H June, J A Ledbetter, P S Rabinovitch, P J Martin, P G Beatty, J A Hansen