Cell-cell adhesion mediated by CD8 and MHC class I molecules

Nature. 1988 Nov 3;336(6194):79-81. doi: 10.1038/336079a0.


CD4 and CD8 are cell-surface glycoproteins expressed on mutually exclusive subsets of peripheral T cells. T cells that express CD4 have T-cell antigen receptors that are specific for antigens presented by major histocompatibility complex class II molecules, whereas T cells that express CD8 have receptors specific for antigens presented by MHC class I molecules (reviewed in ref. 1). Based on this correlation and on the observation that anti-CD4 and anti-CD8 antibodies inhibit T-cell function, it has been suggested that CD4 and CD8 increase the avidity of T cells for their targets by binding to MHC class II or MHC class I molecules respectively. Also, CD4 and CD8 may become physically associated with the T-cell antigen receptor, forming a higher-affinity complex for antigen and MHC molecules, and could be involved in signal transduction. Cell-cell adhesion dependent CD4 and MHC II molecules has recently been demonstrated. To determine whether CD8 can interact with MHC class I molecules in the absence of the T-cell antigen receptor, we have developed a cell-cell binding assay that measures adhesion of human B-cell lines expressing MHC class I molecules to transfected cells expressing high levels of human CD8. In this system, CD8 and class I molecules mediate cell-cell adhesion, showing that CD8 directly binds to MHC class I molecules.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte*
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Line
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I*
  • Humans


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I