The CD3gamma chain is essential for development of both the TCRalphabeta and TCRgammadelta lineages.


CD3gamma and CD3delta are the most closely related CD3 components, both of which participate in the TCRalphabeta-CD3 complex expressed on mature T cells. Interestingly, however, CD3delta does not appear to participate functionally in the pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) complex that is expressed on immature T cells: disruption of CD3delta gene expression has no effect on the developmental steps controlled by the pre-TCR. Here we report that in contrast with CD3delta, CD3gamma is an essential component of the pre-TCR. We generated mice selectively lacking expression of CD3gamma, in which expression of CD3delta, CD3epsilon, CD3zeta, pTalpha and TCRbeta remained undisturbed. Thus, all components for composing a pre-TCR are available, with the exception of CD3gamma. Nevertheless, T-cell development is severely inhibited in CD3gamma-deficient mice. The number of cells in the thymus is reduced to <1% of that in normal mice, and the large majority of thymocytes lack CD4 and CD8 and are arrested at the CD44-CD25+ double negative (DN) stage of development. Peripheral lymphoid organs are also practically devoid of T cells, with absolute numbers of peripheral T cells reduced to only 2-5% of those in normal mice. Both TCRalphabeta and TCRgammadelta lineages fail to develop effectively in CD3gamma-deficient mice, although absence of CD3gamma has no effect on gene rearrangements of the TCRbeta, delta and gamma loci. Furthermore, absence of CD3gamma results in a severe reduction in the level of TCR and CD3epsilon expression at the cell surface of thymocytes and peripheral T cells. The defect in the DN to double positive transition in mice lacking CD3gamma can be overcome by anti-CD3epsilon-mediated cross-linking. CD3gamma is thus essential for pre-TCR function.

More about this publication

The EMBO journal
  • Volume 17
  • Issue nr. 7
  • Pages 1871-82
  • Publication date 01-04-1998

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