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EMBO J. 1993 Nov;12(11):4357-66.

Developmental and functional impairment of T cells in mice lacking CD3 zeta chains.

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Division of Molecular Genetics, Chiba University, School of Medicine, Japan.


CD3 zeta is a component of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) complex and is important for signal transduction. We have established mice selectively lacking CD3 zeta but able to express CD3 eta, a polypeptide produced from the same locus through alternative splicing, using the method of gene targeting in embryonic stem cells. In homozygous mutant mice, the numbers of thymocytes and peripheral T cells were greatly reduced and the expression levels of TCR on these cells were 5-fold lower than those on wild-type cells. By contrast, TCR gamma delta+ intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes were not obviously affected by the mutation. T cells from homozygous mutants exhibited an impaired proliferative response. These results imply that CD3 zeta has a critical role in the development and signal transduction of T cells in vivo.

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