CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are important effector cells responsible for tissue destruction in several autoimmune and allograft-related diseases. To discover if pathogenic T cells could be selectively deleted, we investigated the ability of a toxin coupled to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I tetramers to kill antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. H2-Db tetramers were assembled using streptavidin conjugated to the ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) saporin (SAP). These tetramers inhibited ribosome activity in vitro, retained the T-cell receptor (TCR)-binding specificity of their nontoxic counterparts, and were internalized by 100% of target cells, leading to cell death in 72 hours. Cytotoxicity was dependent on the tetramer dose and avidity for the T cell. A single injection of the SAP-coupled tetramer eliminated more than 75% of cognate, but not control, T cells. This work demonstrates the therapeutic potential of cytotoxic tetramers to selectively eradicate pathogenic clonotypes while leaving overall T-cell immunity intact.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology