The reactivity of a monoclonal antibody against human T lymphotropic retrovirus (antibody 12/1-2, recognising the HTLV-1 p19 internal core viral protein) with benign and malignant cutaneous biopsy specimens was examined and compared with results obtained on normal skin, on various other human cells and tissues, and on immunoblotted extracts of tonsil squamous epithelium. In keeping with previous studies, 12/1-2 labelled a proportion of the thymic epithelial stroma and the entire layer of basal cells in stratified non-keratinized and keratinized epithelium. Furthermore, antibody 12/1-2 reacted with basal cell carcinomas and showed an essentially identical staining pattern in normal skin, cutaneous T cell lymphomas, and a range of benign dermatoses. The dot blot preparations showed that 12/1-2 recognised an antigen associated with keratin intermediate filaments. These data indicate that antibody 12/1-2 forms a useful marker for subsets of epithelial cells, which presumably participate in T cell education, and that a range of cutaneous disorders of widely different aetiology show no abnormalities in epithelial expression of this antigen.
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