Recognition and lysis of target cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes

D. M. Kranz, M. S. Pasternack, H. N. Eisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A single cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) is capable of performing the two most fundamental functions of an immune response, recognition and elimination of foreign antigens. It is now clear that in a CTL these two functions are linked via the antigen-specific, heterodimeric receptor. We review here some experimental approaches that justify this conclusion and provide the means for further examination of the mechanisms by which CTLs lyse their target cells. When antireceptor antibodies serving as antigen substitutes are attached to various cells, they trigger the lytic activity of particular CTLs, which results in lysis of the antibody-modified cell. In the process, a novel serine esterase, which is located within cytolytic granules of the CTL, is released. The presence of this enzyme and a complement-like protein, perforin, in granules of a CTL has led to the suggestion that CTLs and complement have similar cytolytic mechanisms. However, the resistance of some CTLs to lysis by other CTLs, but not to lysis by antibody-activated complement, suggests fundamental differences between cytolytic mechanisms of CTLs and complement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-312
Number of pages4
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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