CD137 is a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family. Its alternative names are tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 9 (TNFRSF9), 4-1BB and induced by lymphocyte activation (ILA).
CD137 can be expressed by activated T cells, but to a larger extent on CD8 than on CD4T cells. In addition, CD137 expression is found on dendritic cells, follicular dendritic cells, natural killer cells, granulocytes and cells of blood vessel walls at sites of inflammation.
Specific effects on cells
The best characterized activity of CD137 is its costimulatory activity for activated T cells. Crosslinking of CD137 enhances T cell proliferation, IL-2 secretion survival and cytolytic activity. Further, it can enhance immune activity to eliminate tumors in mice.
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