A 10-12 kD lymphokine, herein termed TCAF, was recently shown to be secreted from Th after crosslinking of their antigen/MHC (T3-Ti) receptors. TCAF stimulates resting T lymphocyte proliferation via binding to surface components of the T11 pathway. To determine whether TCAF could induce antigen-independent activation of the lytic machinery of cytotoxic cells, the present studies were conducted. In the presence of TCAF, both T8+ class I MHC-specific and T4+ class II MHC-specific cytotoxic T cell clones were induced to kill targets, including those lacking the appropriate MHC molecules. This effect was unique to TCAF, since IL-1, IL-2, IFN-gamma could not stimulate lytic activity. Furthermore, both T3+T11+ and T3-T11+ NK clones were triggered to lyse NK-resistant target cells. These findings suggest that TCAF can function in an antigen-independent fashion to amplify cytotoxic effector responses.

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