Quantitative reductions in T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling are associated with severe immunodeficiency, yet in certain cases can lead to autoimmunity. Mutation of the tyrosine kinase ZAP-70 can cause either of these outcomes, yet the limits of its signal transducing capacity are not well defined. To investigate these limits we have made use of mrtless: a chemically induced mutation of Zap70 associated with T-cell deficiency. Unlike cells devoid of ZAP-70, mrtless thymocytes showed partial induction of CD5 and CD69, and were sensitive to TCR stimulation with a dose-response shifted approximately 10-fold. However, essentially no T cells were able to compensate for the mrtless mutation and mature beyond the CD4⁺ CD8⁺ stage. This outcome contrasts with a ZAP-70 Src Homology 2 domain mutant strain, where high-affinity self-reactive TCR are positively selected rather than deleted. We discuss these data with respect to current models of TCR signalling in thymocyte selection.
Keywords: T cells; genetics; thymic selection.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.