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Stimulation of T cells via the T cell receptor (TCR) leads to an increase intracellular in free Ca2+ levels ([Ca2+]i) and the activation of the MAP kinase signaling pathway. This study analyzes for the first time Ca2+ fluxes in naive cytotoxic T cells stimulated with full agonists, partial agonists, or antagonists. Four different types of Ca2+ responses could be observed. Full agonists triggered a strong and sustained increase in [Ca2+]i. In contrast, partial T cell agonists induced either a strong but transient Ca2+ flux or very low to no increases in [Ca2+]i, while T cell antagonists failed to induce any measurable Ca2+ flux. The ability of peptides to induce elevated [Ca2+]i perfectly paralleled their ability to trigger TCR internalization and T cell activation. Thus, stimulation of naive cytotoxic T cells with a panel of defined altered peptide ligands reveals a consistent picture, where Ca2+ fluxes predict agonist, partial agonist and antagonist properties of peptides.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





3414 - 3419


Animals, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Calcium, Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Signal Transduction