An improved retroviral gene transfer technique demonstrates inhibition of CD4-CD8- thymocyte development by kinase-inactive ZAP-70.
Sugawara T., Di Bartolo V., Miyazaki T., Nakauchi H., Acuto O., Takahama Y.
ZAP-70 is a Syk family tyrosine kinase that plays an essential role in initiating TCR signals. Deficiency in ZAP-70 causes a defect in the development at CD4+CD8+ thymocytes due to defective TCR-mediated positive and negative selection. Using a newly devised retrovirus gene transfer and an efficient green fluorescence protein detection technique in fetal thymus organ cultures, the present study shows that forced expression in developing thymocytes of a catalytically inactive mutant of ZAP-70, but not wild-type ZAP-70, inhibits T cell development at the earlier CD4-CD8- stage. The ZAP-70 mutant blocked the generation of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes even in the absence of endogenous ZAP-70. Thus, the present results demonstrate a novel technique for gene transfer into developing T cells and suggest that ZAP-70/Syk family tyrosine kinases are involved in the signals inducing the generation of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes.