Separation of functional subsets of human T cells by a monoclonal antibody

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1979 Aug;76(8):4061-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.76.8.4061.


A monoclonal antibody was produced to human peripheral blood T cells. This hybridoma antibody, termed OKT4, was reactive by indirect immunofluorescence with only 55-60% of the peripheral blood T cell population (OKT4+) and unreactive with normal B cells, null cells, and macrophages. The OKT4- T cell population contained the previously described TH2+ subset that has been shown to contain cytotoxic/suppressor cells. With cell-sorter separation of OKT4+ and OKT4- cells, it was shown that these T cell subsets were functionally discrete. Both gave proliferative responses with concanavalin A, alloantigens, and phytohemagglutinin although OKT4+ cells were much more responsive to the latter. OKT4+ cells alone responded to soluble antigens whereas OKT4- cells alone were cytotoxic after alloantigenic sensitization of unfractionated T cells. However, both OKT4+ and OKT4- cells were required during sensitization for optimal development of cytotoxicity. These data suggest that the OKT4+ subset represents a helper population and that the OKT4- subset contains the cytotoxic effector population. OKT4 could be a valuable reagent for determining alterations of these functional subsets in human diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis*
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Clone Cells / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Isoantigens / analysis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation
  • Mitogens
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Isoantigens
  • Mitogens