Activation of an immune response requires intercellular contact between T lymphocytes and antigen-presenting cells (APC). Interaction of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) with antigen in the context of major histocompatibility molecules mediates signal transduction, but T cell activation appears to require the induction of a second costimulatory signal transduction pathway. Recent studies suggest that interaction of CD28 with B7 on APC might deliver such a costimulatory signal. To investigate the role of CD28 signal transduction during APC-dependent T cell activation, we have used Staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) presented by a B7-positive APC. We used anti-B7 monoclonal antibodies and a mutant interleukin 2 (IL-2) promoter construct, unresponsive to CD28-generated signals, in transient transfection assays to examine the contribution of the CD28-B7 interaction to IL-2 gene activation. These studies indicate that the CD28-regulated signal transduction pathway is activated during SE stimulation of T cells and plays an important role in SE induction of IL-2 gene expression through its influence upon the CD28-responsive element contained within the IL-2 gene promoter. This effect is particularly profound in the activation of the IL-2 gene in peripheral blood T cells.

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