Stuart F. Schlossman, M.D. M.P.P.
Baruj Benacerraf Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Chief, Tumor Immunology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Within the human immune system, our understanding of the functional programs of T lymphocytes and the mechanisms involved advanced rapidly with the appreciation that antigen recognition and effector functions are intimately linked with surface phenotype. Having identified the CD3/TcR cell receptor complex and its interaction with MHC as the mechanism by which antigen specific signals are delivered to the T cell, and that the direction of the response is determined by expression of either CD4 or CD8, a series of other antigens have been discovered, referred to as "costimulatory molecules" which serve to modify and regulate the response. Amongst these antigens, the multifunctional CD26 and CD27 are most intriguing since both molecules in man appear late in thymic differentiation and are preferentially expressed on the CD4 helper/memory and naive cell populations. Our recent studies on CD26, CD27 and a newly defined T cell structure, termed attractin, indicate that these molecules contribute to a productive immune response through their effect on T cell trafficking, signal induction, macrophage spreading and T cell clustering and regulation of the extracellular microenvironment.
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