Research ArticleImmunology

The catalytic activity of the kinase ZAP-70 mediates basal signaling and negative feedback of the T cell receptor pathway

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Science Signaling  19 May 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 377, pp. ra49
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005596


T cell activation by antigens binding to the T cell receptor (TCR) must be properly regulated to ensure normal T cell development and effective immune responses to pathogens and transformed cells while avoiding autoimmunity. The Src family kinase Lck and the Syk family kinase ZAP-70 (ζ chain–associated protein kinase of 70 kD) are sequentially activated in response to TCR engagement and serve as critical components of the TCR signaling machinery that leads to T cell activation. We performed a mass spectrometry–based phosphoproteomic study comparing the quantitative differences in the temporal dynamics of phosphorylation in stimulated and unstimulated T cells with or without inhibition of ZAP-70 catalytic activity. The data indicated that the kinase activity of ZAP-70 stimulates negative feedback pathways that target Lck and thereby modulate the phosphorylation patterns of the immunoreceptor tyrosine–based activation motifs (ITAMs) of the CD3 and ζ chain components of the TCR and of signaling molecules downstream of Lck, including ZAP-70. We developed a computational model that provides a mechanistic explanation for the experimental findings on ITAM phosphorylation in wild-type cells, ZAP-70–deficient cells, and cells with inhibited ZAP-70 catalytic activity. This model incorporated negative feedback regulation of Lck activity by the kinase activity of ZAP-70 and predicted the order in which tyrosines in the ITAMs of TCR ζ chains must be phosphorylated to be consistent with the experimental data.

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