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The CD4 and CD8 molecules are involved in T cell differentiation and activation. Nevertheless, efficient thymic maturation of helper T cells has been shown in the absence of the CD4 molecule. These CD4-deficient helper T cells expressed alpha beta-TCR and were able to control Leishmania infections and to mediate Ab class switch. Using mice deficient for the CD8 alpha-chain, we investigated whether a similar cytotoxic T cell population was generated in the absence of the CD8 coreceptor. A CD8-deficient cytotoxic T cell population corresponding to the described CD4-deficient helper T cell population was virtually absent both functionally and physically. These results support the idea that thymic maturation is asymmetrical and strongly biased toward the helper phenotype.


Journal article


Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Publication Date





3727 - 3733


Department of Pathology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Animals, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Mice, Mutant Strains, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Isoantigens, Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic, Flow Cytometry, Lymphocyte Activation, Cell Differentiation, Phenotype, Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus