Subtle defects in pre-TCR signaling in the absence of the Tec kinase Itk

Julie A. Lucas, Martin Felices, John W. Evans, Leslie J. Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


αβ T cell development in the thymus is dependent on signaling through the TCR. The first of these signals is mediated by the pre-TCR, which is responsible for promoting pre-T cell proliferation and the differentiation of CD4-8-3- (DN) thymocytes into CD4 +8+3+ (DP) cells. In many cases, T cell signaling proteins known to be essential for TCR signaling in mature T cells are also required for pre-TCR signaling in DN thymocytes. Therefore, it came as a surprise to discover that mice lacking the Tec kinases Itk and Rlk, enzymes required for efficient activation of phospholipase C-γ1 in mature T cells, showed no obvious defects in pre-TCR-dependent selection events in the thymus. In this report, we demonstrate that DN thymocytes lacking Itk, or Itk and Rlk, are impaired in their ability to generate normal numbers of DP thymocytes, especially when placed in direct competition with WT DN thymocytes. We also show that Itk is required for maximal pre-TCR signaling in DN thymocytes. These data demonstrate that the Tec kinases Itk and Rlk are involved in, but are not essential for, pre-TCR signaling in the thymus, suggesting that there is an alternative mechanism for activating phospholipase C-γ1 in DN thymocytes that is not operating in DP thymocytes and mature T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7561-7567
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


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