T cell development in mice lacking the CD3 zeta/eta gene.

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EMBO J 1993 Nov;12(11):4347

T cell development in mice lacking the CD3 zeta/eta gene.

Boyer, C;Brun, N;et, al.;Gillet, A;Kontgen, F;Malissen, M;Mazza, G;Rocha, B;Spanopoulou, E;Trucy, J;Vivier, E

Marseille-Luminy, France.

Service type: Knockout mice


The CD3-zeta and CD3-eta polypeptides are two of the components of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) which contribute to its efficient cell surface expression and account for part of its transducing capability. CD3-zeta and CD3-eta result from the alternative splicing of a single gene designated CD3-zeta/eta. To evaluate the role of these subunits during T cell development, we have produced mice with a disrupted CD3-zeta/eta gene. The analysis of thymocyte populations from the CD3-zeta/eta-/- homozygous mutant mice revealed that they have a profound reduction in the surface levels of TCR complexes and that the products of the CD3-zeta/eta gene appear to be needed for the efficient generation and/or survival of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes. Despite the almost total absence of mature single positive thymocytes, the lymph nodes from zeta/eta-/- mice were found to contain unusual CD4+CD8- and CD4-CD8+ single positive cells which were CD3-. In contrast to the situation observed in the thymus, the thymus-independent gut intraepithelial lymphocytes present in zeta/eta-/- mice do express TCR complexes on their surface and these are associated with Fc epsilon RI gamma homodimers. These results establish an essential role for the CD3-zeta/eta gene products during intrathymic T cell differentiation and further emphasize the difference between conventional T cells and thymus-independent gut intraepithelial lymphocytes.

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