Selective deletion of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells by MHC class I tetramers coupled to the type I ribosome-inactivating protein saporin

Paul R. Hess, Carie Barnes, Matthew D. Woolard, Michael D.L. Johnson, John M. Cullen, Edward J. Collins, Jeffrey A. Frelinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3300-3307
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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