We analyzed the expression of the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) beta chain (p70–75) on various leukemic cells from 44 patients by flow cytometric analysis using the IL-2R beta chain-specific monoclonal antibody (MoAb), designated Mik-beta 1, which has been recently developed. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated the expression of the IL-2R beta chain on granular lymphocytes (GLs) from all eight patients with granular lymphocyte proliferative disorders (GLPDs), on adult T- cell leukemia (ATL) cells from all three patients with ATL, and on T- cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells from one of three patients with T-ALL. Although GLs from all the GLPD patients expressed the IL-2R beta chain alone and not the IL-2R alpha chain (Tac-antigen: p55), ATL and T-ALL cells expressing the beta chain coexpressed the alpha chain. In two of seven patients with common ALL (cALL) and in both patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the leukemic cells expressed the alpha chain alone. Neither the alpha chain nor the beta chain was expressed on leukemic cells from the remaining 28 patients, including all 18 patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, five of seven patients with cALL, all three patients with multiple myeloma, and two of three patients with T-ALL. These results indicate that three different forms of IL-2R chain expression exist on leukemic cells: the alpha chain alone; the beta chain alone; and both the alpha and beta chains. To examine whether the results obtained by flow cytometric analysis actually reflect functional aspects of the expressed IL-2Rs, we studied the specific binding of 125I-labeled IL-2 (125I-IL-2) to leukemic cells in 18 of the 44 patients. In addition, we performed 125I-IL-2 crosslinking studies in seven patients. The results of IL-2R expression of both 125I-IL-2 binding assay and crosslinking studies were in agreement with those obtained by flow cytometric analysis. These results indicate that flow cytometric analysis using MoAbs, anti-Tac, and Mik-beta 1 is useful for detecting the expression of the IL-2R chains.

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