The beta(2) integrin CD11a is involved in T cell-APC interactions, but the roles of CD11b, CD11c, and CD11d in such interactions have not been examined. To evaluate the roles of each CD11/CD18 integrin in T cell-APC interactions, we tested the ability of splenocytes of CD11-knockout (KO) mice to respond to staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs), a commonly used superantigen. The defect in T cell proliferation with SEA was more severe in splenocytes from mice deficient in CD18, CD11b, or CD11d than in CD11a-deficient splenocytes, with a normal response in CD11c-deficient splenocytes. Mixing experiments showed that the defect of both CD11b-KO and CD11d-KO splenocytes was, unexpectedly, in T cells rather than in APC. Cytometric analysis failed to detect CD11b or CD11d on resting or activated T cells or on thymocytes of wild-type adult mice, nor did Abs directed to these integrins block responses in culture, suggesting that T cells educated in CD11b-KO or CD11d-KO mice were phenotypically altered. Consistent with this hypothesis, T cells from CD11b-KO and CD11d-KO splenocytes exhibited reduced intensity of CD3 and CD28 expression and decreased ratios of CD4/CD8 cells, and CD4(+) T cells were reduced among CD11b-KO and CD11d-KO thymocytes. CD11b and CD11d were coexpressed on a subset of early wild-type fetal thymocytes. We postulate that transient thymocyte expression of both CD11b and CD11d is nonredundantly required for normal thymocyte and T cell development, leading to phenotypic changes in T cells that result in the reduced response to SE stimulation.
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