Human CD8 co-receptor is strictly involved in MHC-peptide tetramer-TCR binding and T cell activation

Rita Campanelli, Belinda Palermo, Silvia Garbelli, Stefania Mantovani, Patrizia Lucchi, Antje Necker, Erica Lantelme, Claudia Giachino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there has been extensive analysis on the capacity of MHC-peptide tetramers to bind antigen-specific TCR, there have been comparatively few studies regarding the role of the CD4 and CD8 co-receptors in binding and activation by these multimeric molecules. Here, we start from the observation that different antibodies against human CD8 exert opposite effects on MHC-peptide tetramer binding to the TCR: tetramer staining was enhanced by OKT8 antibody, while it was blocked with SK1 antibody. We used these different anti-CD8 antibodies to modulate CD8 function during tetramer staining of Melan-A/MART1-specific CTL clones. We show that CD8 action could be variably modulated during all the phases of interaction, indicating that CD8 participates in both the initial association of the TCR with MHC-peptide tetramers and the stability of this interaction. While the blocking effect of anti-CD8 antibodies was mostly exerted during the initial binding of the TCR with MHC-peptide tetramers, the enhancing effect was exerted by augmenting the duration of this interaction. Blocking anti-CD8 antibodies were also capable of preventing tetramer-mediated T cell activation. The possibility of variably affecting MHC-peptide tetramer binding and T cell activation using anti-CD8 antibodies confirms the critical role exerted by the CD8 co-receptor in this interaction and supports the notion that TCR engagement by MHC-peptide ligands typically involves CD8.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Anti-CD8 antibody
  • Co-receptor
  • TCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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