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J Immunol. 2006 Feb 1;176(3):1571-81.

Tec kinases Itk and Rlk are required for CD8+ T cell responses to virus infection independent of their role in CD4+ T cell help.

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Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol. 2006 Mar 15;176(6):3842.


Itk and Rlk are members of the Tec kinase family of nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinases that are expressed in T cells, NK cells, and mast cells. These proteins are involved in the regulation of signaling processes downstream of the TCR in CD4(+) T cells, particularly in the phosphorylation of phospholipase C-gamma1 after TCR activation; furthermore, both Itk and Rlk are important in CD4(+) T cell development, differentiation, function, and homeostasis. However, few studies have addressed the roles of these kinases in CD8(+) T cell signaling and function. Using Itk(-/-) and Itk(-/-)Rlk(-/-) mice, we examined the roles of these Tec family kinases in CD8(+) T cells, both in vitro and in vivo. These studies demonstrate that the loss of Itk and Rlk impairs TCR-dependent signaling, causing defects in phospholipase C-gamma1, p38, and ERK activation as well as defects in calcium flux and cytokine production in vitro and expansion and effector cytokine production by CD8(+) T cells in response to viral infection. These defects cannot be rescued by providing virus-specific CD4(+) T cell help, thereby substantiating the important role of Tec kinases in CD8(+) T cell signaling.

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