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

Jun NH2-terminal kinase is constitutively activated in T cells transformed by the intracellular parasite Theileria parva.

When T cells become infected by the parasite Theileria parva, they acquire a transformed phenotype and no longer require antigen-specific stimulation or exogenous growth factors. This is accompanied by constitutive interleukin 2 (IL-2) and IL-2 receptor expression. Transformation can be reversed entirely by elimination of the parasites using the specific drug BW720c. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase and jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) are members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase family, which play a central role in the regulation of cellular differentiation and proliferation and also participate in the regulation of IL-2 and IL-2 receptor gene expression. T. parva was found to induce an unorthodox pattern of mitogen-activated protein kinase expression in infected T cells. JNK-1 and JNK-2 are constitutively active in a parasite-dependent manner, but have altered properties. In contrast, extracellular signal-regulated kinase-2 is not activated even though its activation pathway is functionally intact. Different components of the T cell receptor (TCR)-dependent signal transduction pathways also were examined. The TCRzeta or CD3epsilon chains were found not to be phosphorylated and T. parva-transformed T cells were resistant to inhibitors that block the early steps of T cell activation. Compounds that inhibit the progression of T cells to proliferation, however, were inhibitory. Our data provide the first example, to our knowledge, for parasite-mediated JNK activation, and our findings strongly suggest that T. parva not only lifts the requirement for antigenic stimulation but also entirely bypasses early TCR-dependent signal transduction pathways to induce continuous proliferation.[1]


  1. Jun NH2-terminal kinase is constitutively activated in T cells transformed by the intracellular parasite Theileria parva. Galley, Y., Hagens, G., Glaser, I., Davis, W., Eichhorn, M., Dobbelaere, D. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1997) [Pubmed]
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