The Journal of cell biology

Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-induced killing in the absence of granzymes A and B is unique and distinct from both apoptosis and perforin-dependent lysis.

PMID 16606695


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-induced death triggered by the granule exocytosis pathway involves the perforin-dependent delivery of granzymes to the target cell. Gene targeting has shown that perforin is essential for this process; however, CTL deficient in the key granzymes A and B maintain the ability to kill their targets by granule exocytosis. It is not clear how granzyme AB(-/-) CTLs kill their targets, although it has been proposed that this occurs through perforin-induced lysis. We found that purified granzyme B or CTLs from wild-type mice induced classic apoptotic cell death. Perforin-induced lysis was far more rapid and involved the formation of large plasma membrane protrusions. Cell death induced by granzyme AB(-/-) CTLs shared similar kinetics and morphological characteristics to apoptosis but followed a distinct series of molecular events. Therefore, CTLs from granzyme AB(-/-) mice induce target cell death by a unique mechanism that is distinct from both perforin lysis and apoptosis.