Resistance to the cytolytic action of lymphotoxin and tumor necrosis factor coincides with the presence of gap junctions uniting target cells

W. H. Fletcher, W. W. Shiu, T. A. Ishida, D. L. Haviland, C. F. Ware

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The resistance of target cells to the cytolytic action of lymphotoxin (LT) and recombinant tumor necrosis factor (rTNF) has been investigated by using clonally derived cell lines with defined gap junction-mediated, intercellular communication properties. Gap junction-competent Chinese hamster ovary cells are normally insensitive to the action of LT/TNF. However, treatment with 12-o-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, which promotes the loss of gap junctions, or culturing at low cell density to reduce intercellular contacts, significantly increased their sensitivity to LT/TNF. The LT/TNF-sensitive murine CL-1D and L929 cell lines, which in normal culture conditions are unable to form gap junctions, were not changed in their susceptibility to LT-TNF after treatment with phorbol ester or low culture density. However, the formation of gap junctions by CL-1D can be promoted by treatment with 8-bromo-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (1 mM), and this treatment completely suppressed the ability of LT and rTNF to kill CL-1D. Additionally, the LA25-normal rat kidney cell line, which is infected with a temperature-sensitive mutant of Rous sarcoma virus (LA25), is gap junction-competent and resistant to the effects of LT at the restrictive temperature (39°C). However, when shifted to the permissive temperature (33°C), LA25-normal rat kidney cells express the pp60(v-src) viral gene product, lose their ability to form gap junctions, and become sensitive to the lytic activity of LT. The results demonstrate that the expression of the retroviral pp60(v-src), a tyrosine protein kinase, is sufficient to render cells susceptible to the lytic effects of LT and rTNF. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate a strong correlation between the resistance of target cells to the action of LT/TNF and their ability to cooperate metabolically through gap junctions. The results do not completely exclude the possibility that other mechanisms, such as LT receptor modulation, are also occurring under these experimental conditions. These data also suggest that a possible physiologic function of the stable cytotoxic lymphokines is to induce cytolysis/cytostasis of cells that have lost gap junctional contact, such as those in the process of mitosis or metastasis that have separated from the main tissue mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-962
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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