T cell development in mice that lack the zeta chain of the T cell antigen receptor complex

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Science  13 Aug 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5123, pp. 918-921
DOI: 10.1126/science.7688481


The zeta subunit of the T cell antigen receptor complex is required for targeting nascent receptor complexes to the cell surface and for receptor-mediated signal transduction. To examine the significance of the zeta subunit in T cell development, mice deficient for zeta expression were generated by gene targeting. These zeta-/- mice had few CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, and the generation of CD4+ and CD8+ single positive T cells was impaired but not completely abrogated. Peripheral T cells were present but were unusual in that they expressed small amounts of CD5 and few T cell receptors. Thus, zeta chain expression influences thymocyte differentiation but is not absolutely required for the generation of single positive T cells.