Target cell death triggered by cytotoxic T lymphocytes: a target cell mutant distinguishes passive pore formation and active cell suicide mechanisms.

Molecular and Cellular Biology
D S UckerL D Hebshi


The role of the target cell in its own death mediated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) has been controversial. The ability of the pore-forming granule components of CTL to induce target cell death directly has been taken to suggest an essentially passive role for the target. This view of CTL-mediated killing ascribes to the target the single role of providing an antigenic stimulus to the CTL; this signal results in the vectoral degranulation and secretion of pore-forming elements onto the target. On the other hand, by a number of criteria, target cell death triggered by CTL appears fundamentally different from death resulting from membrane damage and osmotic lysis. CTL-triggered target cell death involves primary internal lesions of the target cell that reflect a physiological cell death process. Orderly nuclear disintegration, including lamin phosphorylation and solubilization, chromatin condensation, and genome digestion, are among the earliest events, preceding the loss of plasma membrane integrity. We have tested directly the involvement of the target cell in its own death by examining whether we could isolate mutants of target cells that have retained the ability to be recognized by and provide an antigenic stimulus to CTL...Continue Reading


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