Transgene-encoded human CD2 acts in a dominant negative fashion to modify thymocyte selection signals in mice

Eur J Immunol. 1996 Dec;26(12):2952-63. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830261222.


CD2 is a cell surface glycoprotein present on all T cells which has been shown to function as an adhesion and signaling molecule. Expressed early in T cell development, human CD2 (HCD2) has been suggested to play a role during thymopoiesis. However, the relevance of CD2 in T cell development has been called into question recently, as neither disruption of the CD2 gene nor anti-CD2 antibody treatment of fetal thymic organ cultures in mouse were shown to have any discernible consequences. We have expressed HCD2 at high levels in transgenic mice and found a profound effect of the transgene on thymocyte differentiation. Transgenic thymuses are considerably reduced in cell number as a consequence of increased apoptosis of double-positive (DP) thymocytes in the cortex. The remaining DP cells have up-regulated levels of T cell receptor (TCR) and are resistant to apoptosis mediated by administration of antigen. These effects are dependent on the cytoplasmic domain of HCD2, as mice expressing comparable levels of a tailless HCD2 transgene have a normal phenotype. The HCD2 cytoplasmic domain contains several regions of identity with mouse CD2 and can interact effciently with mouse intracellular signaling machinery. These results suggest there is considerable cross-talk between CD2 and TCR on developing thymocytes with consequences for the stimulation threshold of mature T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • CD2 Antigens / genetics*
  • CD2 Antigens / physiology*
  • CD48 Antigen
  • Clonal Deletion / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck)
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptor-CD3 Complex, Antigen, T-Cell / biosynthesis
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism*
  • Transgenes / genetics*
  • src-Family Kinases / drug effects


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD2 Antigens
  • CD48 Antigen
  • Receptor-CD3 Complex, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck)
  • src-Family Kinases