From 1 to 23% of fetal human spleen or thymus cells (from the 20th to 24th week of gestation) were found to display a previously unrecognized CD2-/CD3+ phenotype. IL-2-dependent, long-term clones of CD2-/3+ T cells did not react with a panel of anti-CD2 mAbs and did not form rosettes with sheep erythrocytes. These results show that (a) significant numbers of CD2-/3+ T cells are present in fetal human spleen and/or thymus; and (b) in contrast to the widely accepted view, expression of CD2 is not a prerequisite for the expression of the CD3 molecular complex on human T cells.

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