To evaluate those residues in the 117 amino acids of the CD2 cytoplasmic domain required for transduction of T lymphocyte activation signals, a full-length human CD2 cDNA and a series of deletion and substitution mutants were inserted into the ovalbumin-specific, I-Ad-restricted murine T cell hybridoma 3DO54.8 using a retroviral system. The resulting cells express surface CD2 protein and unlike the parental murine line, are reactive with murine anti-human CD2 antibodies. Anti-T11(2) plus anti-T11(3) antibody stimulation of cells expressing a full-length CD2 cDNA results in a characteristic rise in cytosolic-free calcium [( Ca2+]i), and subsequent IL-2 secretion that accompany CD2 stimulation in human T lymphocytes. Transfectants expressing CD2 delta C98 and CD2 delta C77, partially deleted CD2 molecules containing the entire extracellular and transmembrane CD2 segments but only 98 and 77 amino acids of the cytoplasmic domain, respectively, are also activated by anti-CD2 mAbs. In contrast, clones expressing more severely truncated CD2 structures, CD2 delta C43 and CD2 delta C18, are not stimulated. These data show that the cytoplasmic domain plays an essential role in transduction of activation signals via CD2, and that the segment between amino acid residues 253 and 278 is necessary for activation. This region contains two tandem repeats of the sequence PPPGHR, thought to form part of a putative cationic site. Disruption of the latter by site-directed mutagenesis does not affect IL-2 gene induction, suggesting that only one of the repeats is required for activating this function of the CD2 molecule.

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