In vivo application of mAb directed against the γδ TCR does not deplete but generates “invisible” γδ T cells



mAb targeting the γδ TCR have been used for γδ T-cell depletion with varying success. Although the depletion-capacity of the anti-γδ TCR mAb clone GL3 has been disputed repeatedly, many groups continue to use γδ T-cell depletion protocols involving the mAb clone UC7-13D5 and find significant biological effects. We show here that treatment with both GL3 and UC7-13D5 antibodies does not deplete γδ T cells in vivo, but rather leads to TCR internalization and thereby generates “invisible” γδ T cells. We addressed this issue using anti-γδ TCR mAb injections into WT mice as well as into reporter TCR delta locus-histone 2B enhanced GFP knock-in mice, in which γδ T cells can be detected based on an intrinsic green fluorescence. Importantly, the use of TCR delta locus-histone 2B enhanced GFP mice provided here for the first time direct evidence that the “depleted” γδ T cells were actually still present. Our results show further that GL3 and UC7-13D5 mAb are in part cross-competing for the same epitope. Assessed by activation markers, we observed in vitro and in vivo activation of γδ T cells through mAb. We conclude that γδ T-cell depletion experiments must be evaluated with caution and discuss the implications for future studies on the physiological functions of γδ T cells.