Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes: Target Cell Killing: Molecular mechanisms

The discovery by Govaerts of lymphocytes able to kill graft cells in vitro immediately triggered speculation about the molecular mechanism(s) underlying destruction of the targeted cells. Experimental approaches to this question fell into two broad camps: some looked for a fixed, physical property of the killer cell itself to explain cytotoxicity; others searched for the release of one or more soluble cytotoxic factors. Those following the first path initially adapted the tried and true biochemistry approach of breaking killer cells down into their component parts and testing each separately. The earliest of these studies analyzed various crude fractions of disrupted killer cell populations, but the results were generally negative. It appeared that viable effector cells were required to cause lysis, since heated, freeze-thawed or sonicated cells uniformly failed to exhibit lytic activity (Rosenau and Moon, 1961; Wilson, 1963; Ginsburg et al., 1969).


Natural Killer Cell Target Cell Membrane Attack Complex 51Cr Release Target Cell Membrane 
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© Springer 2007

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