The mechanism of lymphocyte cytotoxicity has been the subject of investigation for well over ten years. In spite of this intensive effort, the exact mechanism(s) involved in the destruction of target cells by lymphocytes remains controversial. Over the past few years, however, several groups have been able to demonstrate a number of common features for the cytolytic process by different lymphocyte populations, including T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells. These common features have led to the suggestion that lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity proceeds in a series of stages, ultimately resulting in the secretion of cytolytic molecules leading to target cell lysis. These distinct stages include: (1) the binding of effector and target cell via a specific receptor-antigen interaction, (2) a calcium- and energy-requiring rearrangement of cytoplasm and secretion of cytotoxic material into the intercellular space, (3) the interaction of the cytolytic material with target-cell membranes, leading to (4) lysis of the target cell.
KeywordsNatural Killer Natural Killer Cell Target Cell Lysosomal Enzyme Cytolytic Activity
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