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Immunity. 1997 Jun;6(6):663-71.

A spontaneously arising mutation in the DLAARN motif of murine ZAP-70 abrogates kinase activity and arrests thymocyte development.

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Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Development of immature CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes into functionally mature CD4+ and CD8+ T cells is driven by selection events that require signals transduced through the T cell antigen receptor (TCR). Transduction of TCR signals in the thymus involves tyrosine phosphorylation of the protein tyrosine kinase ZAP-70 by p56(lck) and results in induction of ZAP-70 enzymatic activity. We have identified a novel, spontaneously arising point mutation within a highly conserved motif (DLAARN) in the kinase domain of murine ZAP-70 that uncouples tyrosine phosphorylation of ZAP-70 from induction of ZAP-70 kinase activity. Mice homozygous for this mutation are devoid of mature T cells because thymocyte development is arrested at the CD4+ CD8+ stage of differentiation. The developmental arrest is due to the inability of CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes to propagate TCR signals in the absence of ZAP-70 kinase activity despite tyrosine phosphorylation of TCR-associated ZAP-70 molecules.

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