Bruton's tyrosine kinase: cell biology, sequence conservation, mutation spectrum, siRNA modifications, and expression profiling


* C. I. Edvard Smith
Clinical Research Center
Karolinska Institutet
Hälsovägen 7
SE-141 86 Huddinge
Tel.: +46 8 58583651
Fax: +46 8 58583650


Summary:  Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk) is encoded by the gene that when mutated causes the primary immunodeficiency disease X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) in humans and X-linked immunodeficiency (Xid) in mice. Btk is a member of the Tec family of protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) and plays a vital, but diverse, modulatory role in many cellular processes. Mutations affecting Btk block B-lymphocyte development. Btk is conserved among species, and in this review, we present the sequence of the full-length rat Btk and find it to be analogous to the mouse Btk sequence. We have also analyzed the wealth of information compiled in the mutation database for XLA (BTKbase), representing 554 unique molecular events in 823 families and demonstrate that only selected amino acids are sensitive to replacement (P < 0.001). Although genotype–phenotype correlations have not been established in XLA, based on these findings, we hypothesize that this relationship indeed exists. Using short interfering-RNA technology, we have previously generated active constructs downregulating Btk expression. However, application of recently established guidelines to enhance or decrease the activity was not successful, demonstrating the importance of the primary sequence. We also review the outcome of expression profiling, comparing B lymphocytes from XLA-, Xid-, and Btk-knockout (KO) donors to healthy controls. Finally, in spite of a few genes differing in expression between Xid- and Btk-KO mice, in vivo competition between cells expressing either mutation shows that there is no selective survival advantage of cells carrying one genetic defect over the other. We conclusively demonstrate that for the R28C-missense mutant (Xid), there is no biologically relevant residual activity or any dominant negative effect versus other proteins.