Marked Differences in the Structures and Protein Associations of Lymphocyte and Monocyte CD4: Resolution of a Novel CD4 Isoform

Immunol Cell Biol. 2006 Apr;84(2):154-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1711.2005.01403.x.


The structures, molecular interactions and functions of CD4 in a subset of T lymphocytes have been well characterized. The CD4 receptors of other cell types have, however, been poorly documented. We have previously shown that lymphocytes and monocytes/macrophages differ in their expression of CD4 monomers and dimers. In the present study, we have shown further significant differences. Variability in the blocking of CD4 mAb binding by sulfated polyanions indicated differences in exofacial CD4 structures. In contrast to the well-documented 55 kDa monomers in lymphocytic cells, monocytic cells were found to coexpress two monomer isoforms: the 55 kDa form and a novel 59 kDa species. Experimental uncoupling of CD4 disulfides indicated that the oxidized 55 kDa monomer could be converted to the 59 kDa form. This was achieved by chemical reduction of purified native or recombinant CD4, or in cell transfection experiments by mutation of cysteine to alanine in domain 1 (D1) (Cys16 or Cys84) and in domain 4 (D4) (Cys303 or Cys345). All of these modifications promote CD4 distension on SDS-PAGE analysis and indicate that, when CD4 inter-beta-sheet disulfides in the D1 and D4 Ig folds are disrupted, there is an unravelling of the oxidized form to an extended 59 kDa unfolded state. We hypothesize that this may be a transition-state, structural-intermediate in the formation of disulfide-linked homodimers. Also identified were CD4-tyrosine kinase dissimilarities in which lymphocyte CD4 associated with Lck, but monocyte CD4 associated with HcK. These findings show that there is complex heterogeneity in structures and interactions in the CD4 of T lymphocytes and monocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • CD4 Antigens / genetics
  • CD4 Antigens / immunology*
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Cell Communication / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / immunology
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-hck / immunology
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Transfection


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Protein Isoforms
  • HCK protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-hck