Theileria parva-infected lymphoblastoid cell lines of T or B cell origin were examined for IL-2 mRNA expression. T. parva-infected T cell lines could be of the CD4-CD8-, CD4+CD8-, CD4-CD8+, or CD4+CD8+ phenotype and express alpha beta or gamma delta TCR. By Northern blot analysis and amplification by the polymerase chain reaction, IL-2 mRNA could be detected in all T. parva-infected cell lines tested. IL-2 mRNA expression was also shown to be dependent on the continuous presence of the parasite in the host cell cytoplasm, because elimination of the parasite by treatment of T. parva-infected cell cultures with the theilericidal drug BW720c resulted in the disappearance of detectable IL-2 mRNA. The effect of anti-IL-2 antibodies on the proliferation of T. parva-infected cells was also tested. Inhibition experiments suggest that although IL-2 mRNA can be detected in all cell lines tested, not all T. parva-infected cell lines are dependent on IL-2 for their proliferation. Our data provide the first example for the constitutive expression of IL-2 mRNA in T and B cells caused by infection with an intracellular parasite
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