Leu-Leu-OMe sensitivity of human activated killer cells: Delineation of a distinct class of cytotoxic T lymphocytes capable of lysing tumor targets

Dwain L Thiele, P. E. Lipsky

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11 Scopus citations


Sensitivity to L-leucyl-L-leucine methyl ester (Leu-Leu-OMe) was used to characterize the phenotype of human activated killer cells. Natural killer cells (NK) and the precursors of both the alloantigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and the NK-like activated killer cells generated after stimulation with allogeneic cells were deleted from human peripheral blood lymphocytes by preincubation with Leu-Leu-OMe. It was noted, however, that cytotoxic lymphocytes could be generated from Leu-Leu-OMe-treated lymphocyte precursors after 2 to 6 days of culture with the nonspecific mitogen, phytohemagglutinin (PHA). The characteristics of these killer cells indicated that they were a unique population that could be distingushed from other cytotoxic cells. Killing by these cells exhibited slow kinetics in that 18 hr cytotoxicity assays were required to detect full cytotoxic potential. When 18 hr assays were used, PHA-stimulated cytotoxic cells generated from Leu-Leu-OMe-treated lymphocytes were able to kill both NK-sensitive K562 cells and the relatively NK-resistant renal cell carcinoma cell line, Cur. These cytotoxic lymphocytes were HNK-1,Leu-11b (CD16), and OKM1 (CR3)-negative at both the precursor and effector stage of activation. Furthermore, these cells were derived from a CD3-positive precursor. Finally, killing by activated effectors was inhibited by OKT3. Unlike activation of Leu-Leu-OMe-sensitive large granular lymphocytes, generation of these cytotoxic T cells was totally prevented by treatment with mitomycin c before stimulation. Thus, a unique class of tumoricidal T cells can be characterized by resistance of lymphocyte precursors to a concentration of Leu-Leu-OMe, which has been shown to ablate NK, mixed lymphocyte culture-activated NK-like cytotoxic precursors, and the precursors of alloangtigen-specific CTL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1399-1406
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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