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J Biol Chem. 2009 Feb 13;284(7):4429-38. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M808679200. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Cbl enforces an SLP76-dependent signaling pathway for T cell differentiation.

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Experimental Immunology Branch, NCI, and NIA, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


A signaling pathway involving ZAP-70, LAT, and SLP76 has been regarded as essential for receptor-driven T cell development and activation. Consistent with this model, mice deficient in SLP76 have a complete block at the double negative 3 stage of T cell development. Recently, however, it has been reported that inactivation of Cbl, a ubiquitin-protein isopeptide ligase, partially rescues T cell development in SLP76-deficient mice. To probe the influence of Cbl on domain-specific SLP76 functions, we reconstituted SLP76(-/-) Cbl(-/-) mice with Slp76 transgenes bearing mutations in each of three functional domains of SLP76 as follows: Y3F, in which the amino-terminal tyrosine residues of SLP76 were mutated, eliminating sites of SLP76 interaction with Vav, Nck, and Itk; Delta20, in which 20 amino acids in the proline-rich region of SLP76 were deleted, removing a binding site for Gads; and RK, in which arginine 448 of SLP76 was replaced by lysine, abolishing function of the Src homology 2 domain. Although each of these transgenes has been shown to partially rescue T cell development in SLP76(-/-) mice, we report here that Cbl inactivation completely reverses the severe double negative 3 developmental block that occurs in SLP76-deficient mice expressing the Y3F transgene (Y3F mice) and partially rescues the defect in positive selection in T cell receptor transgenic Y3F mice, but in contrast fails to rescue thymic development of SLP76-deficient mice expressing the Delta20 or RK transgene. Rescue in SLP76(-/-)Cbl(-/-)Y3F double-positive thymocytes is associated with enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of signaling molecules, including Lck, Vav, PLC-gamma1, and ERKs, but not Itk, in response to T cell receptor stimulation. Thus, our data demonstrate that Cbl suppresses activation of a bypass signaling pathway and thereby enforces SLP76 dependence of early T cell development.

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