CD2 is an intercellular adhesion molecule that has been implicated in T cell activation and differentiation both in humans and mice. Although the ligand for human CD2 has been defined as LFA-3, that for murine CD2 has not been identified yet. To identify the ligand for mouse CD2, we generated a chimeric molecule consisting of the extracellular domain of mouse CD2 and human immunoglobulin (Ig)G1 Fc (mCD2Rg). A hamster monoclonal antibody (mAb), HM48-1, was established by screening mAbs that could block the binding of mCD2Rg to T cell lines at the ligand site. The putative mouse CD2 ligand recognized by this mAb was a glycosyl phosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoprotein with an apparent molecular mass of 45 kD, which were shared characteristics with human LFA-3. However, its expression was predominantly restricted to hematopoietic cells, unlike human LFA-3. Protein microsequencing analysis for the NH2-terminal 18 amino acid residues of the affinity-purified HM48-1 antigen revealed that it is almost identical with mouse CD48. This identity was further confirmed by the reactivity of HM48-1 with a soluble recombinant CD48 (sCD48) protein and the molecule recognized by a rat mAb raised against sCD48. A rat anti-CD48 mAb blocked the mCD2Rg binding as well as HM48-1. Moreover, sCD48 also inhibited the mCD2Rg binding to the cellular ligand. Finally, like anti-CD2 mAb, HM48-1 inhibited the phytohemagglutinin response and, when crosslinked, augmented the anti-CD3 response of splenic T cells. These results indicate that CD48 is a ligand for mouse CD2 and is involved in regulating T cell activation.

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