We investigated the mechanism involved in T cell unresponsiveness that follows the monoclonal antibody-induced surface modulation of the CD3-TCR complex. We determined whether modulation of CD3-TCR affected the early metabolic steps such as [Ca2+]i rise and InsP3 formation. A strong inhibition of the increase on [Ca2+]i mediated by either anti-TCR or anti-CD2 mAbs was detected. In contrast, surface modulation of CD2 molecules did not prevent the [Ca2+]i increase induced by anti-TCR mAb. Similarly, InsP3 increase was strongly reduced only after modulation of CD3-TCR complex (but not of CD2 molecules). Therefore, it appears that surface modulation of CD3-TCR complex causes T cell refractoriness by inhibiting the very early metabolic events that follow receptor-ligand interactions.

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