We have previously characterized a CD3+ T cell receptor (TCR) alpha/beta- human fetal cloned cell line, termed F6C7, which surface-expresses a CD3-associated gamma chain identified by anti-NKFi, an mAb with a restricted clonotypic reactivity. Here, we have produced an additional antibody, anti-Ti-gamma A, which recognizes a public epitope of the gamma molecule defined by anti-NKFi. Ti-gamma A is present on approximately 3% of circulating lymphocytes with a wide range (1-15%) among 30 healthy individuals tested. Two-color immunofluorescence experiments performed with anti-Ti-gamma A and BMA 031 mAb (a reagent specific for the TCR-alpha/beta receptor) showed that surface expression of Ti-alpha/beta and Ti-gamma A is mutually exclusive. Moreover, it was found that most Ti-gamma A+ cells are CD2+, CD3+, CD4-, CD5+, NKH1-, HLA class II-negative. In contrast, the expression of the CD8 molecule on these T lymphocytes appears to be variable from one individual to another. Finally, we found that Ti-gamma A+ cells represent a majority of peripheral lymphocytes that express CD3 proteins but not the TCR-alpha/beta heterodimer. The delineation of this unique lymphocyte subset should help further studies on the biology of cells with a CD3-associated gamma complex.

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