A novel glycoprotein (gp) expressed by stromal cells of peripheral lymphoid tissue has been characterized immunohistochemically, biochemically, and at the molecular level. This molecule, gp38, was identified with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) (clone 8.1.1) previously shown to react with a subpopulation of thymic epithelium. This mAb generated a reticular labeling pattern in medullary and paracortical areas of lymph nodes and in splenic white pulp. At the ultrastructural level, labeling by the 8.1.1 mAb was restricted to fibroblastic reticular stromal cells. Serial sections of lymph node and spleen labeled with anti-CD3, anti-B220, and 8.1.1 mAbs clearly showed that the 8.1.1+ cells were associated with T cell-dependent areas. In severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) or Nu/Nu mice, splenic white pulp also exhibited reticular labeling with the 8.1.1 mAb in the absence of detectable numbers of T cells, indicating that the appearance of 8.1.1-reactive stromal cells in discrete areas of peripheral lymphoid tissue was T cell independent. The cDNA encoding this stromal cell molecule was cloned by direct expression in COS cells and found to encode a 172 amino acid sequence with the typical features of a type I integral membrane protein. COS cells transfected with the gp38 clone direct the expression of an approximately 38-kD protein that reacts with the 8.1.1 mAb but not with isotype-matched controls. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequence of 8.1.1 mAb but not with isotype-matched controls. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequence of 8.1.1 with proteins in the National Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF) data base showed that gp38 is very closely related to the early response protein OTS-8 obtained from a cDNA library of tumor promoting agent (TPA)-induced murine osteoblastic cell line, MC3T3-E1.

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