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The CD2 adhesion/activation molecule on the surface of mammalian T lymphocytes binds to a ubiquitous receptor, LFA-3. We show that CD2 in sheep differs significantly in its expression from CD2 in humans, and this most likely relates to the high level of expression of the sheep LFA-3 molecule. In sheep, in contrast to man, CD2 was weakly expressed on peripheral T cells and thymocytes. Moreover, a large subset of T cells identified by the monoclonal antibody T19 and considered to be gamma/delta receptor-bearing T cells completely lacked the CD2 molecule. T19+ cells constituted up to 50% of peripheral blood T cells in lambs, and 20-30% of T cells in older sheep, whereas the CD4+ and CD8+ subsets, which are both CD2+, constituted relatively small subsets in peripheral blood. Only those T cells which did express CD2 adhered as "rosettes" to dendritic cells, and the localization of CD2 to the membrane junction indicated that CD2 was critical for this adhesion. However, CD2 adhesion was not necessary for CTL-mediated killing of allogeneic target cells, since T19+ cells generated in bulk mixed lymphocyte culture were extremely efficient at killing appropriate target cells. Some of the behavioral differences between T19+ and CD4+/CD8+ subsets might be explained by the presence or absence of CD2. The results also indicate that the expression of CD2 (and LFA-3) may differ markedly between species.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





1681 - 1688


Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antigen-Antibody Reactions, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, Antigens, Surface, CD2 Antigens, CD58 Antigens, Cell Adhesion, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Dendritic Cells, Flow Cytometry, Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed, Membrane Glycoproteins, Precipitin Tests, Receptors, Immunologic, Sheep, T-Lymphocytes, Thymus Gland