The 53-5.8 monoclonal antibody specifically binds to the β chain of the CD8 differentiation antigen (Ly-3.2 or Lyt-3.2) of most mouse strains, having weak reactivity with Ly-3.1 strains (e.g., AKR, C58, MRL, PL). The CD8 α and α' chains (CD8a) form heterodimers with the CD8 β chain (CD8b, Ly-3, or Lyt-3) on the surface of most thymocytes. A subpopulation of mature T lymphocytes (i.e., MHC class I-restricted T cells, including most T suppressor/cytotoxic cells) expresses almost exclusively the CD8 αβ heterodimer (the α' chain is absent). Subsets of γδ TCR-bearing T cells, intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, and dendritic cells express CD8a without CD8b. It has been suggested that the expression of the CD8a/CD8b heterodimer is restricted to T lymphocytes which matured in the thymus or in an extrathymic environment that had been influenced by thymus-initiated neuroendocrine signals. CD8 is an antigen coreceptor on the T-cell surface which interacts with MHC class I molecules on antigen-presenting cells. It participates in T-cell activation through its association with the T-cell receptor complex and protein tyrosine kinase lck (p56lck).