Expression of different CD8 isoforms on distinct human lymphocyte subpopulations

Eur J Immunol. 1991 Aug;21(8):1793-800. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830210803.


Human CD8+ lymphocyte subpopulations were analyzed for their expression of CD8 alpha and CD8 beta subunits. Investigations with uncloned peripheral blood lymphocytes as well as cloned human natural killer and T cell subpopulations demonstrate that CD3- natural killer cells, T cell receptor gamma/delta, and CD4+CD8+ T cell clones express exclusively CD8 alpha gene products. Structural analysis of CD8 molecules demonstrates that CD8 alpha+/beta- T lymphocytes surface express 75-kDa CD8 alpha/alpha homodimers whereas CD8 alpha/beta lymphocytes express concomittantly two CD8 isoforms of different molecular masses (67 kDa and 75 kDa, respectively). Peptide mapping of these latter two isoforms suggests that CD8 is expressed as alpha/alpha homodimers and alpha/beta heterodimers on CD8 alpha/beta+ cells. Importantly, we found that the two CD8 isoforms behave functionally different. Thus, in contrast to CD8 alpha/beta+/CD8 alpha/alpha+ T lymphocytes, cytolytic activity of CD8 alpha/beta-/CD8 alpha/alpha+ T cell clones was not inhibited by anti-CD8 monoclonal antibodies and the latter were not induced to proliferate following CD3/CD8 cross-linking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD / analysis*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / physiology
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Humans
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / analysis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell