Perforin expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells: Definition of an IL-2-independent pathway of perforin induction in CD8+ T cells

P. Lu, J. A. Garcia-Sanz, M. G. Lichtenheld, E. R. Podack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Perform gene expression upon in vitro stimulation was studied at the mRNA level in normal human PBMC and in subpopulations. Freshly isolated PBMC express low levels of perform mRNA. Increased perform expression is rapidly induced by the calcium ionophore A23187 and by rIL-2. Phorbolesters (PMA), by comparison, are poor inducers of perforin RNA. Perform induction by Ca-ionophore, unlike granzyme 2 and IL-2 induction, did not synergize with phorbolesters in PBMC or in purified T cells. Instead, perforin mRNA induction by A23187 in purified T cells requires the presence of adherent cells. Ca-ionophore plus adherent cell-induced perforin occurred in CD8+ T cells and was abolished by depletion of CD8+ T cells but not by depletion of CD4+ T cells. Adherent cells alone did not express perforin under any condition. Perforin mRNA induction by both A23187 and by rIL-2 is independent of de novo protein synthesis. The half-life of perforin mRNA induced by either stimulus is approximately 100 min. Cyclosporin A completely abrogates perform induction by A23187 but only slightly inhibits the effect of rIL-2 on perforin mRNA expression. These data show that A23187 activates perforin gene expression in CD8+ cells by an IL-2-independent pathway and that the molecular mechanism of perforin expression may be different from the one induced by IL-2. Granzyme 2 (human leukocyte protease-HLP, homologous to murine granzyme B) mRNA expression was studied in comparison to perform. Granzyme 2 in contrast to perforin responds to the synergistic action of phorbolester and Ca-ionophore in PBMC. In addition, the kinetics of the induction of granzyme and perforin mRNA, by various signals are different. Our data suggest that situations in vivo may exist that allow perforin expression in CD8+ cells in the absence of cytokines by a combination of Ca signals and accessory receptor ligation. The same signals may not be sufficient for granzyme 2 expression in any T cell subpopulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3354-3360
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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