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The CD278 antigen, also known as ICOS molecule (inducible T-cell costimulator, Inducible Costimulator), is a disulfide-linked homodimeric T-cell surface glycoprotein of 55-60 kDa, which belongs to the CD28 and CTLA-4 cell-surface receptor family. The CD278 molecule plays an important role in cell-cell signaling, immune responses, and regulation of cell proliferation. While CD278 antigen is not constitutively expressed on naïve peripheral blood T cells, it is highly expressed on unstimulated thymocytes of germinal centers, showing a role in T cell differentiation. Upon activation by antigen presenting cells, T cells (CD4 positive cells and CD8 positive cells) express inducible co-stimulatory receptors, including CD28, CTLA4 and ICOS. The resulting interaction of CD278 (ICOS) with its ligand ICOS-L (B7-like molecule present on B cells) participates to interleukin production, especially IL-10 and IL4. The central role of CD278 in the generation and maintenance of humoral immunity has also been shown to be important. Upon the co-stimulation of T cells through ICOS and CD28, ICOS binds its ligand ICOS-L leading to IgG and IgM secretion as well as IgE production. It is not expressed on resting peripheral T cells, B cells, NK cells, monocytes/macrophages, platelets and granulocytes.
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