The staphylococcal toxins are responsible for a number of diseases in man and other animals. Many of them have also long been known to be powerful T cell stimulants. They do not, however, stimulate all T cells. On the contrary, each toxin reacts with human T cells bearing particular V beta sequences as part of their receptors for major histocompatibility complex protein-associated antigen. The specificity of these toxins for V beta s puts them in the recently described class of superantigens and may account for the differential sensitivity of different individuals to the toxic effects of these proteins.

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