B7-2 is a recently discovered, second ligand for the CTLA-4/CD28, T cell signaling system. Using the GL-1 rat monoclonal antibody (mAb), we monitored expression of B7-2 on mouse leukocytes with an emphasis on dendritic cells. By cytofluorography, little or no B7-2 was detected on most cell types isolated from spleen, thymus, peritoneal cavity, skin, marrow, and blood. However, expression of B7-2 could be upregulated in culture. In the case of epidermal and spleen dendritic cells, which become highly immunostimulatory for T cells during a short period of culture, the upregulation of B7-2 was dramatic and did not require added stimuli. Lipopolysaccharide did not upregulate B7-2 levels on dendritic cells, in contrast to macrophages and B cells. By indirect immunolabeling, the level of staining with GL-1 mAb exceeded that seen with rat mAbs to several other surface molecules including intercellular adhesion molecule 1, B7-1, CD44, and CD45, as well as new hamster mAbs to CD40, CD48, and B7-1/CD80. Of these accessory molecules, B7-2 was a major species that increased in culture, implying a key role for B7-2 in the functional maturation of dendritic cells. B7-2 was the main (> 90%) CTLA-4 ligand on mouse dendritic cells. When we applied GL-1 to tissue sections of a dozen different organs, clear-cut staining with B7-2 antigen was found in many. B7-2 staining was noted on liver Kupffer cells, interstitial cells of heart and lung, and profiles in the submucosa of the esophagus. B7-2 staining was minimal in the kidney and in the nonlymphoid regions of the gut, and was not observed at all in the brain. In the tongue, only rare dendritic cells in the oral epithelium were B7-2+, but reactive cells were scattered about the interstitial spaces of the muscle. In all lymphoid tissues, Gl-1 strongly stained certain distinct regions that are occupied by dendritic cells and by macrophages. For dendritic cells, these include the thymic medulla, splenic periarterial sheaths, and lymph node deep cortex; for macrophages, the B7-2-rich regions included the splenic marginal zone and lymph node subcapsular cortex. Splenic B7-2+ cells were accessible to labeling with GL-1 mAb given intravenously. Dendritic cell stimulation of T cells (DNA synthesis) during the mixed leukocyte reaction was significantly (35-65%) blocked by GL-1.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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