Competition for Antigenic Sites during T Cell Proliferation: A Mathematical Interpretation of in vitro Data
By fitting different mathematical T cell proliferation functions to in vitro T cell proliferation data, we studied T cell competition for stimulatory signals. In our lymphocyte proliferation assays both the antigen (Ag) availability and the concentration of T cells were varied. We show that proliferation functions involving T cell competition describe the data significantly better than classical proliferation functions without competition, thus providing direct evidence for T cell competition in vitro. Our mathematical approach allowed us to study the nature of T cell competition by comparing different proliferation functions involving (i) direct inhibitory T-T interactions, (ii) Ag-specific resource competition, or (iii) resource competition for nonspecific factors such as growth factors, and access to the surface of Ag-presenting cells (APCs). We show that resource competition is an essential ingredient of T cell proliferation. To discriminate between Ag-specific and nonspecific resource competition, the Ag availability was varied in two manners. In a first approach we varied the concentration of APCs, displaying equal ligand densities; in a second approach we varied the Ag density on the surface of the APCs, while keeping the APC concentration constant. We found that both resource competition functions described the data equally well when the Ag availability was increased by adding APCs. When the APC concentration was kept constant, the nonspecific resource competition function yielded the best description of the data. Our interpretation is that T cells were competing for "antigenic sites" on the APCs.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
- Pub Date:
- September 1999