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Interchangeability of Themis1 and Themis2 in thymocyte development reveals two related proteins with conserved molecular function.

Lesourne R., Zvezdova E., Song K.D., El-Khoury D., Uehara S., Barr V.A., Samelson L.E., Love P.E.

Themis1, a recently identified T cell protein, has a critical function in the generation of mature CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+) (CD4 and CD8 single-positive [SP]) thymocytes and T cells. Although Themis1 has been shown to bind to the adaptor proteins LAT and Grb2, previous studies have yielded conflicting results regarding whether thymocytes from Themis1(-/-) mice exhibit TCR-mediated signaling defects. In this study, we demonstrate that, in the absence of Themis1, TCR-mediated signaling is selectively impaired in CD4 SP and CD8 SP thymocytes but is not affected in CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes despite high expression of Themis1 in double-positive thymocytes. Like Themis1, Themis2, a related member of the Themis family, which is expressed in B cells and macrophages, contains two conserved cysteine-based domains, a proline-rich region, and a nuclear localization signal. To determine whether Themis1 and Themis2 can perform similar functions in vivo, we analyzed T cell development and TCR-mediated signaling in Themis1(-/-) mice reconstituted with either Themis1 or Themis2 transgenes. Notably, Themis1 and Themis2 exhibited the same potential to restore T cell development and TCR-mediated signaling in Themis1(-/-) mice. Both proteins were tyrosine phosphorylated and were recruited within Grb2 signaling complexes to LAT following TCR engagement. These results suggest that conserved molecular features of the Themis1 and Themis2 proteins are important for their biological activity and predict that Themis1 and Themis2 may perform similar functions in T and B cells, respectively.

J. Immunol. 189:1154-1161(2012) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]