We have studied the cytotoxic activity of rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells transfected with cDNAs for the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) granule components, cytolysin (perforin), granzyme A, and granzyme B. With red cell targets, cytolysin expression conferred potent hemolytic activity, which was not influenced by coexpression of granzymes. With tumor targets, RBL cells expressing cytolysin alone were weakly cytotoxic, but both cytolytic and nucleolytic activity were enhanced by coexpression of granzyme B. RBL cells expressing all three CTL granule components showed still higher cytotoxic activities, with apoptotic target death. Analysis of the cytotoxic activity of individual transfectant clones showed that cytolytic and nucleolytic activity correlated with granzyme expression but was independent of cytolysin expression within the range examined. A synergism between granzymes A and B was apparent when the triple transfectant was compared with RBL cells expressing cytolysin and one granzyme. These data implicate granzymes as the major mediators of tumor target damage by cytotoxic lymphocytes.

This content is only available as a PDF.