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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.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





2952 - 2963


Animals, Antigens, CD, Apoptosis, CD2 Antigens, CD48 Antigen, Clonal Deletion, Down-Regulation, Humans, Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck), Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Receptor-CD3 Complex, Antigen, T-Cell, Signal Transduction, Thymus Gland, Transgenes, src-Family Kinases