In vivo application of mAb directed against the gammadelta TCR does not deplete but generates "invisible" gammadelta T cells

Eur J Immunol. 2009 Feb;39(2):372-9. doi: 10.1002/eji.200838741.


mAb targeting the gammadelta TCR have been used for gammadelta T-cell depletion with varying success. Although the depletion-capacity of the anti-gammadelta TCR mAb clone GL3 has been disputed repeatedly, many groups continue to use gammadelta T-cell depletion protocols involving the mAb clone UC7-13D5 and find significant biological effects. We show here that treatment with both GL3 and UC7-13D5 antibodies does not deplete gammadelta T cells in vivo, but rather leads to TCR internalization and thereby generates "invisible" gammadelta T cells. We addressed this issue using anti-gammadelta TCR mAb injections into WT mice as well as into reporter TCR delta locus-histone 2B enhanced GFP knock-in mice, in which gammadelta T cells can be detected based on an intrinsic green fluorescence. Importantly, the use of TCR delta locus-histone 2B enhanced GFP mice provided here for the first time direct evidence that the "depleted" gammadelta T cells were actually still present. Our results show further that GL3 and UC7-13D5 mAb are in part cross-competing for the same epitope. Assessed by activation markers, we observed in vitro and in vivo activation of gammadelta T cells through mAb. We conclude that gammadelta T-cell depletion experiments must be evaluated with caution and discuss the implications for future studies on the physiological functions of gammadelta T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins