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J Immunol. 1991 Feb 15;146(4):1142-8.

Expression and tyrosine phosphorylation of the T cell receptor zeta-subunit in human thymocytes.

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  • 1Division of Tumor Immunology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115.


Recent evidence suggests that the zeta-subunit of the TCR complex plays a critical role in transducing signals initiated by the Ag receptor heterodimer. Because thymic maturation involves specific interactions between the TCR complex and thymic stromal cells, the zeta-subunit has been postulated to also play a role in this process. To assess the potential for zeta to contribute to thymocyte maturation, we have used an anti-zeta mAb (TIA-2) to quantitate its expression in mature (CD3bright) and immature (CD3dim and CD3-) populations of human thymocytes. Using both flow cytometric and immunoblotting analysis, we found that the relative expression of TCR-zeta varied directly with the surface expression of CD3. Importantly, TCR-zeta was detected in the majority of CD3- thymocytes, indicating that its expression precedes the surface appearance of CD3:TCR. In thymocytes, TCR-zeta was found to be constitutively phosphorylated on tyrosine residues. The relative expression of phospho-zeta varied directly with the maturational stage of the thymocyte, with the mature (CD3bright), single positive cells accounting for most of the phospho-zeta found in the human thymus. The expression of phospho-zeta could be significantly increased by activating thymocytes with mAb reactive with either CD3 or CD2. These results suggest that TCR-zeta is functionally linked to the major thymocyte activation receptors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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