Cytotoxic lymphocytes use the granule exocytosis pathway to kill pathogen-infected cells and tumor cells. Although many genes in this pathway have been extensively characterized (e.g., perforin, granzymes A and B), the role of granzyme C is less clear. We therefore developed a granzyme C-specific mAb and used flow cytometry to examine the expression of granzyme B and C in the lymphocyte compartments of wild-type and mutant GzmB-/- cre mice, which have a small deletion in the granzyme B gene. We detected granzyme B and C expression in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells activated with CD3/CD28 beads or MLRs. Stimulation of NK cells in vitro with IL-15 also induced expression of both granzymes. Granzyme C up-regulation was delayed relative to granzyme B in wild-type lymphocytes, whereas GzmB-/- cre cells expressed granzyme C earlier and more abundantly on a per-cell basis, suggesting that the deleted 350-bp region in the granzyme B gene is important for the regulation of both granzymes B and C. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that granzyme C protein levels were regulated by mRNA abundance. In vivo, a population of wild-type CD8αα+ intraepithelial lymphocytes constitutively expressed granzyme B and GzmB-/- cre intraepithelial lymphocytes likewise expressed granzyme C. Using a model of a persistent murine CMV infection, we detected delayed expression of granzyme C in NK cells from infected hosts. Taken together, these findings suggest that granzyme C is activated with persistent antigenic stimulation, providing nonredundant backup protection for the host when granzyme B fails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6287-6297
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential expression of granzyme B and C in murine cytotoxic lymphocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this