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Whereas most T cells express surface CD4 or CD8 molecules, a minority lacks both. CD4-8- cells usually express the gamma delta T-cell receptor, but here we describe a population of CD4-8- T cells from the peripheral blood that express the alpha beta heterodimer. These cells have different surface antigens than gamma delta+ T cells, expressing CD5 but lacking CD16, and differ in function from gamma delta+ T cells. CD4-8- alpha beta+ cells lack non-major histocompatibility complex-restricted cytolytic function but can be induced to lyse their target cells after activation of their T-cell receptors. A peculiar characteristic of these cells is their responsiveness to interleukin 3. Since these cells have not altered their phenotype or function over a 12-month period in culture, they appear to be mature T cells. The results indicate that normal human peripheral blood contains two subsets of CD4-8- T cells, expressing either gamma delta or alpha beta receptors, that differ in function, phenotype, and growth control.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





8502 - 8506


Antigens, CD, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, CD4 Antigens, CD8 Antigens, Cell Line, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Humans, Interleukin-2, Interleukin-3, Interleukin-4, Lymphocyte Activation, Macromolecular Substances, Phenotype, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, T-Lymphocytes