Using monoclonal antibodies and multiparameter fluorescence analyses, we show that the expression of Lyt-1, Lyt-2, and Lyt-3 on T cell subpopulations is more complex than was originally recognized by the cytotoxic depletion studies with conventional reagents that defined the Lyt-1+2+3+, Lyt-1+2-3-, and Lyt-1-2+3+ populations. We detect at least some Lyt-1 on all T (Thy-1-bearing) lymphocytes; however, in agreement with previous studies, we find that Lyt-2+3+ cells are more difficult to depelete with anti-Lyt-1 than Lyt-1+2-3- cells. Surprisingly, we found a small subpopulation of cells carrying relatively large amounts of Lyt-1 and no Thy-1 detectable by fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis. We also detect cells with this phenotype histologically in B cell zones (primary follicles) and germinal centers in spleen and lymph nodes. In general, the Lyt-1 only population represents approximately 2% of spleen cells. The relative quantitative expression of Thy-1, Lyt-1, Lyt-2, and Lyt-3 changes systematically during T cell maturation. Among Lyt-1+2+3+ cells in the thymus, Thy-1 and Lyt-2 are high, whereas Lyt-1 is low. Among splenic T cells, in contrast, Thy-1 is low, Lyt-1 is high, and Lyt-2 and Lyt-3 are a little higher than in thymus. In general, Thy-1 expression is negatively correlated with Lyt-1. Thus, even among splenic and lymph node T cells subpopulations exist that tend to be either high Thy-1 and low Lyt-1 or vice versa. Lyt-2+3+ cells represent approximately 85% of thymocytes but only approximately 35% of splenic or lymph node T cells. The Lyt-2+3+ cells are found predominantly in the low Lyt-1, high Thy-1 subpopulation.

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