An Antimicrobial Activity of Cytolytic T Cells Mediated by Granulysin

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Science  02 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5386, pp. 121-125
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5386.121

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Cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) kill intracellular pathogens by a granule-dependent mechanism. Granulysin, a protein found in granules of CTLs, reduced the viability of a broad spectrum of pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and parasites in vitro. Granulysin directly killed extracellularMycobacterium tuberculosis, altering the membrane integrity of the bacillus, and, in combination with perforin, decreased the viability of intracellular M. tuberculosis. The ability of CTLs to kill intracellular M. tuberculosis was dependent on the presence of granulysin in cytotoxic granules, defining a mechanism by which T cells directly contribute to immunity against intracellular pathogens.

  • * Current address: Institut für Klinische Mikrobiologie, Immunologie und Hygiene, Universität Erlangen, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed: rmodlin{at}

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