In mice lacking the interleukin-2 receptor beta chain (IL-2R beta), T cells were shown to be spontaneously activated, resulting in exhaustive differentiation of B cells into plasma cells and the appearance of high serum concentrations of immunoglobulins G1 and E as well as autoantibodies that cause hemolytic anemia. Marked infiltrative granulocytopoiesis was also apparent, and the animals died after about 12 weeks. Depletion of CD4+ T cells in mutant mice rescued B cells without reversion of granulocyte abnormalities. T cells did not proliferate in response to polyclonal activators, nor could antigen-specific immune responses be elicited. Thus, IL-2R beta is required to keep the activation programs of T cells under control, to maintain homeostasis, and to prevent autoimmunity.
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