A functional T3 molecule associated with a novel heterodimer on the surface of immature human thymocytes

Nature. 1986 Jul 10-16;322(6075):179-81. doi: 10.1038/322179a0.


The known T-cell receptors (TCRs) involved in the recognition of antigen and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules are glycoproteins comprised of polymorphic disulphide-linked alpha- and beta-chains. The genes encoding these chains are homologous to immunoglobulin genes and consist of V (variable), J (joining) and C (constant) regions that rearrange during development. TCRs are expressed relatively late in thymocyte development and only in association with an invariant molecular complex of proteins termed T3. Immature thymocytes do not express the TCR-T3 complex but do express messenger RNA encoding a third rearranging T-cell receptor-like gene, termed T gamma. Here we report a clone of normal immature T4-T8- human thymocytes, designated CII, which does not express mature mRNA for T alpha or T beta genes, but does express high levels of T gamma mRNA. This clone also expresses high levels of surface T3, and antibodies to T3 induce immunologically relevant functions in CII cells. Immunoprecipitation of CII surface-labelled proteins with anti-T3 co-precipitates a T3 molecular complex together with two additional and novel peptides of relative molecular mass (Mr), 44,000 (44K) and 62,000 (62K).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / analysis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Surface
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell