CD8α enhances the responses of antigen-specific CTL activated through TCR through binding MHC class I, favoring lipid raft partitioning of TCR, and inducing intracellular signaling. CD8α is also found on dendritic cells and rat macrophages, but whether CD8α enhances responses of a partner receptor, like TCR, to activate these cells is not known. TCR and FcR, use analogous or occasionally interchangeable signaling mechanisms suggesting the possibility that CD8α co-activates FcR responses. Interestingly, CD8α+ monocytes are often associated with rat models of disease involving immune-complex deposition and FcR-mediated pathology, such as arthritis, glomerulonephritis, ischaemia, and tumors. While rat macrophages have been shown to express CD8α evidence for CD8α expression by mouse or human monocytes or macrophages was incomplete.
We detected CD8α, but not CD8β on human monocytes and the monocytic cell line THP-1 by flow cytometry. Reactivity of anti-CD8α mAb with monocytes is at least partly independent of FcR as anti-CD8α mAb detect CD8α by western blot and inhibit binding of MHC class I tetramers. CD8α mRNA is also found in monocytes and THP-1 suggesting CD8α is synthesized by monocytes and not acquired from other CD8α+ cell types. Interestingly, CD8α from monocytes and blood T cells presented distinguishable patterns by 2-D electrophoresis. Anti-CD8α mAb alone did not activate monocyte TNF release. In comparison, TNF release by human monocytes stimulated in a FcR-dependent manner with immune-complexes was enhanced by inclusion of anti-CD8α mAb in immune-complexes.
Human monocytes express CD8α. Co-engagement of CD8α and FcR enhances monocyte TNF release, suggesting FcR may be a novel partner receptor for CD8α on innate immune cells.