Gangliosides are known to inhibit the proliferative response of murine and human lymphocytes to antigens and mitogens in vitro. In this study the response of murine spleen cells to concanavalin A (Con A) was used as a model system. Analysis of the cellular events by flow cytometry revealed that during the first 24 hr of culture the effect of gangliosides on Con A-treated cells was minimal. At 48 hr, however, more of the ganglioside-treated cells were in G0 G1, the cells contained more RNA, and fewer cells were in S phase. These data indicate that gangliosides inhibit the transition of the cells from G0 G1 into the S phase of the cell cycle. Expression of the interleukin 2 (IL-2) receptor, as measured by the binding of a monoclonal antibody to the receptor, was not inhibited by the gangliosides. Binding of 125I-labeled recombinant IL-2 to cells cultured for 48 hr with Con A was inhibited by ganglioside GDla but not by asialo GMI. Inhibition was much more effective if the gangliosides were preincubated with IL-2 before addition of cells, but no inhibition was observed if the cells were preincubated with gangliosides and the unbound gangliosides were washed out prior to addition of the IL-2. These data suggest that interference with the binding of IL-2 to the high-affinity IL-2 receptor of activated T lymphocytes plays an important role in the inhibition of Con A-induced proliferation.
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