The formation of conjugates between cloned anti-H-2Kb and Dd cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and splenic target cells has been studied by dual parameter flow cytometry. By varying effector-target combinations and by blocking with anti-MHC class I monoclonal antibodies, we found that the specificity of conjugate formation, in general, paralleled that expected from cytotoxicity studies; however, a significant number of "nonspecific" conjugates was always observed. As expected from previous studies, conjugate formation did not occur below 10 degrees C and was inhibited by cytochalasin B, EDTA, and anti-Lyt-2 antibodies. Conjugate formation followed first-order kinetics. The rate of formation of conjugates increased with temperature from 24 degrees to 37 degrees C; at 37 degrees C, the half-time was 1.4 min. After a 6-min lag period, lysis of target cells could be detected at 37 degrees C but not at 30 degrees C or below. Because target cell lysis proceeded during a period of time when the number of conjugates remained constant, considerable effector cell recycling must have occurred. Comparisons of the fluorescence emissions from conjugated effector or target cells with those from unconjugated cells demonstrated that nearly all conjugates contained one effector cell and one target cell, independent of the ratio of the two cell types in the original mix. Once formed, anti-H-2Kb conjugates were stable when diluted into medium alone, but rapidly disaggregated in medium containing either anti-Lyt-2 or anti-Kb monoclonal antibodies, both of which blocked conjugate formation. This finding suggests that conjugates are normally stabilized by intercellular bonds that are constantly breaking and reforming at the cell:cell interface, and that the antibodies disrupt the conjugates by preventing the reformation of broken bonds.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Association of Immunologists