Down-modulation of CD4 antigen during programmed cell death in U937 cells

Walter Malorni, Roberto Rivabene, Maria Teresa Santini, Silvia Paradisi, Francesca Iosi, Gianfranco Donelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been hypothesized that programmed cell death (PCD), an active cell suicide process occurring in place of necrosis, can be associated with the pathogenesis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The entry of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) into competent cells is mediated by the CD4 molecule present on the surface of certain lymphocyte subpopulations as well as on some cultured cell lines, e.g. U937 myelomonocytic cells. The present paper focuses on some specific aspects of PCD induced by the cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The results obtained indicate that the exposure of U937 cells to cycloheximide facilitates TNF-mediated PCD via a short term cell death program and modifies the expression of CD4 surface molecules. This change in surface antigen expression, manifested by internalization of the CD4 molecule, occurs in cells in which apoptosis has been triggered, but not in cells undergoing necrosis. These results indicate that the progression of cell death could be associated with specific alterations of certain surface molecules and could have a role in the entry of HIV into cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 27 1993


  • Apoptosis
  • CD4
  • Down-modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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