Signal transduction through the T-cell receptor and cytokine receptors on the surface of T lymphocytes occurs largely via tyrosine phosphorylation of intracellular substrates. Because neither the T-cell receptor nor cytokine receptors contain intrinsic kinase domains, signal transduction is thought to occur via association of these receptors with intracellular protein tyrosine kinases. Although several members of the SRC and SYK families of tyrosine kinases have been implicated in signal transduction in lymphocytes, it seems likely that additional tyrosine kinases involved in signal transduction remain to be identified. To identify unique T-cell tyrosine kinases, we used polymerase chain reaction-based cloning with degenerate oligonucleotides directed at highly conserved motifs of tyrosine kinase domains. We have cloned the complete cDNA for a unique human tyrosine kinase that is expressed mainly in T lymphocytes (EMT) and natural killer (NK) cells. The cDNA of EMT predicts an open reading frame of 1866 bp encoding a protein with a predicted size of 72 Kd, which is in keeping with its size on Western blotting. A single 6.2-kb EMT mRNA and 72-Kd protein were detected in T lymphocytes and NK-like cell lines, but were not detected in other cell lineages. EMT contains both SH2 and SH3 domains, as do many other intracellular kinases. EMT does not contain the N-terminal myristylation site or the negative regulatory tyrosine phosphorylation site in its carboxyterminus that are found in the SRC family of tyrosine kinases. EMT is related to the B-cell progenitor kinase (BPK), which has recently been implicated in X-linked hypogammaglobulinemia, to the TECI mammalian kinase, which has been implicated in liver neoplasia, to the more widely expressed TECII mammalian kinase, and to the Drosophila melanogaster Dsrc28 kinase. Sequence comparison suggests that EMT is likely the human homologue of a recently identified murine interleukin-2 (IL-2)-inducible T cell kinase (ITK). However, unlike ITK, EMT message and protein levels do not vary markedly on stimulation of human IL-2-responsive T cells with IL-2. Taken together, it seems that EMT is a member of a new family of intracellular kinases that includes BPK, TECI, and TECII. EMT was localized to chromosome 5q31-32, a region that contains the genes for several growth factors and receptors as well as early activation genes, particularly those involved in the hematopoietic system. Furthermore, the 5q31-32 region is implicated in the genesis of the 5q- syndrome associated with myelodysplasia and development of leukemia. The expression of EMT message and protein in thymocytes and mature T cells, combined with its homology to BPK and its chromosomal localization, suggests that EMT may play a role in thymic ontogeny and growth regulation of mature T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology