Development and function of T cells in mice rendered interleukin-2 deficient by gene targeting

Nature. 1991 Aug 15;352(6336):621-4. doi: 10.1038/352621a0.


Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a lymphocytotropic hormone which is thought to have a key role in the immune response of mammalian cells. It is produced by a subpopulation of activated T-lymphocytes and acts in vitro as the principal auto- and paracrine T-cell growth factor (for reviews see refs 1-3). IL-2 is, however, not the sole T-cell growth factor, nor does it act exclusively on T cells, also promoting growth of NK cells and differentiation of B cells. A role for IL-2 in T-cell development has been postulated but remains controversial. Here we test the requirement for IL-2 in vivo using IL-2-deficient mice generated by targeted recombination. We find that mice homozygous for the IL-2 gene mutation are normal with regard to thymocyte and peripheral T-cell subset composition, but that a dysregulation of the immune system is manifested by reduced polyclonal in vitro T-cell responses and by dramatic changes in the isotype levels of serum immunoglobulins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / deficiency*
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes
  • Interleukin-2