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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Dec 1;89(23):11194-8.

itk, a T-cell-specific tyrosine kinase gene inducible by interleukin 2.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


T lymphocytes are activated by interactions with antigens, lymphokines, and cell adhesion molecules. Tyrosine phosphorylation has been implicated as important in signaling through each of these pathways, but except for p56lck, a member of the Src family that associates with CD4 and CD8, the protein-tyrosine kinases involved have not been defined. We describe here a tyrosine kinase gene that we have designated itk (for IL-2-inducible T-cell kinase). The itk gene specifies a 72-kDa protein-tyrosine kinase that is related to members of the Src family but lacks two features characteristic of Src kinases: an N-terminal myristoylation consensus sequence and a regulatory tyrosine residue near the C terminus. Analysis of mouse tissues and cell lines indicates that itk is specifically expressed in the T-cell lineage, suggesting that the tyrosine kinase encoded by itk functions in a signal transduction pathway unique to T lymphocytes. On addition of IL-2 to responsive T cells, itk RNA increases in parallel with that of IL-2R alpha, implicating itk in T-cell activation.

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