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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A serine/threonine phosphorylation site in the ectodomain of a T cell receptor beta chain is required for activation by superantigen.

The presence of consensus phosphorylation sites in the ectodomains of cell surface proteins suggests that such post-translational modification may be important in regulation of surface receptor activity. To date, the only cell surface receptor for which such ectodomain phosphorylation has been conclusively demonstrated is the clonally expressed T cell antigen receptor (TCR). Attempts to conclusively identify individual phosphorylated residues in TCR alpha and beta chains and determine their functional significance by biochemical approaches failed due to insufficient quantities of purified molecules. Here we present the results of an alternative approach where survey of phosphorylation sites in the TCR alpha and beta chains was accomplished using site-directed mutagenesis and retroviral vector expression, as well as in vitro phosphorylation of synthetic peptide substrates. All mutants studied directed the cell surface expression of normal amounts of TCR, and all transfectants could be stimulated to produce IL-2 in response to substrate-immobilized antibody to TCR. However, mutation of serine-88 in the protein kinase A phosphorylation site of the TCR beta chain resulted in a complete lack of response to the superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). In addition, this mutation abolished TCR-associated tyrosine phosphorylation, consistent with the impairment of cell signaling. Reversion of the serine-88/alanine mutation with phosphorylatable threonine completely restored the SEB recognition by TCR. These results, interpreted in the context of the known three-dimensional structure of the complex of SEB and TCR, are consistent with the view that serine-88 is important for the contact of the TCR beta chain with SEB.[1]


  1. A serine/threonine phosphorylation site in the ectodomain of a T cell receptor beta chain is required for activation by superantigen. Lukashev, D.E., Caldwell, C.C., Chen, P., Apasov, S.G., Margulies, D.H., Sitkovsky, M.V. J. Recept. Signal Transduct. Res. (2003) [Pubmed]
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