The leukocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) molecule is well established as a surface protein involved in cellular adhesion and interaction, but there has been little information about whether engagement of this molecule can also directly modify cellular activation. These studies demonstrate that crosslinking the LFA-1 molecule on human T cell clones transmits a unique signal to the cell. Crosslinking LFA-1 alone did not increase intracellular calcium ([ CA2+]i), nor did crosslinking LFA-1 activate the cells as measured by IL-2 production or [3H]thymidine incorporation. However, when CD3 and LFA-1 were crosslinked, a more prolonged calcium signal was observed than when CD3 alone was crosslinked. Moreover, IL-2 production and DNA synthesis were greatly augmented. These responses could be demonstrated when LFA-1 was crosslinked via either the alpha or the beta chain, and required surface expression of the LFA-1 molecule as no enhancement was observed in T cell clones from a child with leukocyte adhesion deficiency. The enhancement of cellular activation by LFA-1 did not require that it be directly crosslinked to the CD3 complex. Thus, crosslinking LFA-1 alone with isotype-specific secondary antibodies on cells also pretreated with an anti-CD3 mAb of a different Ig isotype stimulated the cells as effectively as crosslinking both surface antigens with GaMIg. Similarly, a delayed, but sustained increase in [Ca2+]i was elicited. This increase in [Ca2+]i and the enhanced functional responses required engagement of CD3 with an intact bivalent anti-CD3 mAb, as crosslinking LFA-1 on cells also reacted with Fab fragments of an anti-CD3 mAb did not increase [Ca2+]i, nor activate the cells. These data indicate that LFA-1 can convey activation signals to T cells. Synergism in signaling can be observed upon crosslinking of LFA-1 and independently crosslinking CD3. In the physiologic interaction between T cells and accessory cells, the interaction of LFA-1 with its ligand, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, may therefore not only facilitate cellular adhesion, but also may amplify T cell activation by delivering costimulatory signals.

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