CD8, also known as Leu-2 or T8 in human and Lyt2 or Lyt3 in mouse, is a cell surface glycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin supergene family (1, 2). CD8 is expressed on cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (T-cells), most thymocytes, between 35-45% of peripheral blood lymphocytes, and a population of natural killer (NK) cells (1, 2). The CD8 molecule consists of disulfide-linked alpha (alpha) and beta (beta) chains that present on T-cells as either CD8alphaalpha homodimers or CD8alphabeta heterodimers (1, 3). Both alpha and beta chains consist of a signaling sequence, an extracellular Ig-like domain, a membrane proximal stalk region, a transmembrane domain, and a cytoplasmic tail (3). Human CD8alpha is processed as 235 amino acids (aa) in length with a theoretical molecular weight of ~26 kDa, while mouse CD8alpha is 247 aa and has a theoretical molecular weight of 27.5 kDa (4, 5). Functionally, CD8 acts as an antigen coreceptor on cytotoxic T-cells and interacts with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules on antigen presenting cells (APCs), mediating cell-cell interactions within the immune system. Conversely, CD4 molecules interact with antigens presented on MHC class II molecules and are activated to become helper T-cells (TH) (1,2). Interestingly, thymocytes can transiently express both CD4 and CD8 during the maturation process (2). Furthermore, the cytoplasmic tail of CD8 has a Lck (lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase) binding domain where Lck interacts with CD8, initiating a phosphorylation cascade that activates transcription factors and promotes T-cell activation (6). More specifically, CD8alphabeta functions as a T-cell co-receptor, while CD8alphaalpha promotes T-cell survival and differentiation (7).
Given its role in the immune system, CD8-deficiency in T-cells is a hallmark of many diseases and pathologies (8-10). Specifically, CD8+ T-cell deficiency is prevalent in chronic autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and Graves' disease (8). Furthermore, cancers or chronic infection can lead to CD8 T-cell exhaustion as the continual antigen presentation and inflammatory signals eventually cause the CD8+ T-cells to lose functionality (9, 10). However, animal models and clinical studies have suggested that T-cells are capable of being reinvigorated using inhibitory receptor blockade resulting in better disease outcomes and these exhausted T-cells may be a potential therapeutic target (9, 10).
Alternative names for CD8 includes CD antigen: CD8a, CD8 antigen, alpha polypeptide (p32), CD8a molecule, CD8A, Leu2 T-lymphocyte antigen, LEU2, MAL, OKT8 T-cell antigen, p32, T cell co-receptor, T8 T-cell antigen, T-cell antigen Leu2, T-cell surface glycoprotein CD8 alpha chain, and T-lymphocyte differentiation antigen T8/Leu-2.
1. Littman D. R. (1987). The structure of the CD4 and CD8 genes. Annual review of immunology. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.iy.05.040187.003021
2. Naeim F. (2008). Chapter 2- Principles of Immunophenotyping. Hematopathology. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-370607-2.00002-8.
3. Gao, G. F., & Jakobsen, B. K. (2000). Molecular interactions of coreceptor CD8 and MHC class I: the molecular basis for functional coordination with the T-cell receptor. Immunology today. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0167-5699(00)01750-3
4. UniProt (P01732)
5. UniProt (P01731)
6. Kappes D. J. (2007). CD4 and CD8: hogging all the Lck. Immunity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2007.11.002
7. Gangadharan, D., & Cheroutre, H. (2004). The CD8 isoform CD8alphaalpha is not a functional homologue of the TCR co-receptor CD8alphabeta. Current opinion in immunology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coi.2004.03.015
8. Pender M. P. (2012). CD8+ T-Cell Deficiency, Epstein-Barr Virus Infection, Vitamin D Deficiency, and Steps to Autoimmunity: A Unifying Hypothesis. Autoimmune diseases. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/189096
9. Kurachi M. (2019). CD8+ T cell exhaustion. Seminars in immunopathology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00281-019-00744-5
10. Hashimoto, M., Kamphorst, A. O., Im, S. J., Kissick, H. T., Pillai, R. N., Ramalingam, S. S., Araki, K., & Ahmed, R. (2018). CD8 T Cell Exhaustion in Chronic Infection and Cancer: Opportunities for Interventions. Annual review of medicine. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-med-012017-043208
|Product By Gene ID
- CD_antigen: CD8a
- CD8 antigen, alpha polypeptide (p32)
- CD8a molecule
- Leu2 T-lymphocyte antigen
- OKT8 T-cell antigen
- T cell co-receptor
- T8 T-cell antigen
- T-cell antigen Leu2
- T-cell surface glycoprotein CD8 alpha chain
- T-lymphocyte differentiation antigen T8/Leu-2