Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1990 Sep 13;347(6289):189-91.

Family of disulphide-linked dimers containing the zeta and eta chains of the T-cell receptor and the gamma chain of Fc receptors.

Author information

Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Stimulation of T cells by antigen activates many signalling pathways. The capacity for this range of biochemical responses may reside in the complex structure of the seven-chain T-cell antigen receptor (TCR). In addition to the complexity shared by all TCRs, coexpression of zeta (zeta) and the distinct but related eta (eta) chains creates structural diversity among the TCR complexes expressed on a given cell. In most murine T cells that we have studied, about 90% of the heptameric receptor complexes contain a zeta zeta disulphide homodimer, whereas 10% contain a zeta eta disulphide heterodimer. Recent studies suggest that zeta has a critical role in allowing antigen to activate the cell, whereas eta expression has been correlated with the capacity for antigen-induced phosphoinositide turnover. A third zeta-related protein, the gamma (gamma) chain of the Fc epsilon and some Fc gamma receptors, exists as a disulphide homodimer in those complexes. The structural relatedness of zeta and gamma is emphasized by the recent demonstration of zeta zeta in association with CD16 in TCR-negative natural killer cells. Here we identify T cells lacking Fc receptors but coexpressing zeta, gamma, and eta, document the formation of novel heterodimers between zeta and gamma and between eta and gamma and show their association with the TCR. A greater range of homologous coupling structures than previously thought may be one way of achieving the variety of TCR-mediated (and possibly Fc receptor-mediated) biochemical responses and effector functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center