Peripheral T cells undergoing superantigen-induced apoptosis in vivo express B220 and upregulate Fas and Fas ligand

J Exp Med. 1996 Feb 1;183(2):431-7. doi: 10.1084/jem.183.2.431.


Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) is a bacterial superantigen (SAg) that predominantly interacts with V(beta)8+ T cells. In vivo treatment of mice with SEB leads to an initial increase in the percentage of V(beta)8+ T cells, followed by a decrease in the numbers of these cells, eventually reaching lower levels than those found before treatment with the SAg. This decrease is due to apoptosis of the SEB-responding cells. In the present study, we use the distinct light scattering characteristics of apoptotic cells to characterize T cells that are being deleted in response to SEB in vivo. We show that dying, SEB-reactive T cells express high levels of Fas and Fas ligand (Fas-L), which are implicated in apoptotic cell death. In addition, the B cell marker B220 is upregulated on apoptotic cells. Moreover, we show that the generation of cells with an apoptotic phenotype is severely impaired in response to SEB in functional Fas-L-deficient mutant gld mice, confirming the role of the Fas pathway in SAg mediated peripheral deletion in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Epitopes
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / biosynthesis
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Superantigens / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Up-Regulation
  • fas Receptor / biosynthesis


  • Enterotoxins
  • Epitopes
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Fasl protein, mouse
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Superantigens
  • fas Receptor
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens