Our studies have analyzed pore-forming protein (PFP) mRNA expression in resting and stimulated human peripheral blood CD3- large granular lymphocytes (LGL), CD3+ T cells, and their CD4+ or CD8+ subsets. Signals that stimulate T cells to develop cytotoxic activity (i.e., IL-2 or OKT-3 mAb) led to the induction of PFP mRNA in T cells. The data indicated that IL-2 directly increased PFP mRNA in the CD8+ subset of T cells, in the absence of new DNA or protein synthesis. Abrogation of IL-2-induced PFP mRNA expression and cytotoxic potential of T cells by the anti-p75 IL-2 receptor mAb suggested that low numbers of p75 IL-2 receptors on CD8+ T cells were capable of transducing signals responsible for these IL-2-induced effects. The induction of T cell PFP mRNA via CD3, using OKT-3 mAb, was less rapid but greater than that caused by IL-2; however, a combination of PMA and ionomycin, which bypasses crosslinking of the TCR/CD3 complex, could not mimic this increase in PFP mRNA levels in T cells. The role of second messenger systems in regulating PFP mRNA expression remains to be determined. In contrast, high constitutive PFP mRNA expression was observed in CD3- LGL and these mRNA levels could not be enhanced by stimulation with IL-2. The cytotoxic potential of peripheral blood T cells and LGL induced in response to IL-2 correlated with IL-2-induced PFP mRNA levels in these cells and was consistent with PFP being one of several important molecules involved in the effector function of cytotoxic lymphocytes.

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