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Immunity. 2005 May;22(5):595-606.

Attenuation of gammadeltaTCR signaling efficiently diverts thymocytes to the alphabeta lineage.

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Division of Basic Sciences, Immunobiology Working Group, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


The role of the T cell antigen receptor complex (TCR) in alphabeta/gammadelta lineage commitment remains controversial, in particular whether different TCR isoforms intrinsically favor adoption of a certain lineage. Here, we demonstrate that impairing the signaling capacity of a gammadeltaTCR complex enables it to efficiently direct thymocytes to the alphabeta lineage. In the presence of a ligand, a transgenic gammadeltaTCR mediates almost exclusive adoption of the gammadelta lineage, while in the absence of ligand, the same gammadeltaTCR promotes alphabeta lineage development with efficiency comparable to the pre-TCR. Importantly, attenuating gammadeltaTCR signaling through Lck deficiency causes reduced ERK1/2 activation and Egr expression and diverts thymocytes to the alphabeta lineage even in the presence of ligand. Conversely, ectopic Egr overexpression favors gammadelta T cell development. Our data support a model whereby gammadelta versus alphabeta lineage commitment is controlled by TCR signal strength, which depends critically on the ERK MAPK-Egr pathway.

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