Receptor-directed focusing of lymphokine release by helper T cells

Nature. 1988 Mar 24;332(6162):378-80. doi: 10.1038/332378a0.


The interaction between helper T cells and B cells, leading to the production of antibody to thymus-dependent antigens, was the first cell interaction clearly defined in the immune system; it remains both paradigmatic and controversial. Two requirements of this interaction, that the helper cell (TH) and the B cell must recognize antigenic determinants that are physically linked, and that the TH and the B cell must share genes encoding major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules, led to the concept that TH-B interaction required an intimate physical association of the two cell types. But in vitro studies have shown that TH can be replaced by soluble, antigen-nonspecific factors, capable of activating any B cell to secrete antibody. We have previously proposed that the requirements for TH-B contact might result from TH cells releasing their lymphokines in a polar fashion directed at that portion of the cell membrane where T-cell receptor cross-linking is actually occurring. Using an artificial monolayer of a cloned helper T-cell line, we show that lymphokines are released preferentially over the area of receptor cross-linking under conditions of limited TH-cell activation. Thus, it appears that one important aspect of the specificity of TH-B cell interactions is the receptor-directed polar release of helper lymphokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / physiology
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Exocytosis*
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation
  • Lymphokines / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred AKR
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / ultrastructure


  • Lymphokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell