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Keywords:

  • T cells;
  • autoimmunity;
  • signaling proteins;
  • cell differentiation;
  • transgenic/knockout mice

Summary:  T-cell development in the thymus and activation of mature T cells in secondary lymphoid organs requires the ability of cells to respond appropriately to environmental signals at multiple stages of their development. The process of thymocyte selection insures a functional T-cell repertoire, while activation of naive peripheral T cells induces proliferation, gain of effector function, and, ultimately, long-lived T-cell memory. The T-cell immune response is initiated upon engagement of the T-cell receptor (TCR) and coreceptor, CD4 or CD8, by cognate antigen/major histocompatibility complexes presented by antigen-presenting cells. TCR/coreceptor engagement induces the activation of biochemical signaling pathways that, in combination with signals from costimulator molecules and cytokine receptors, direct the outcome of the response. Activation of the src-family kinases p56lck (Lck) and p59fyn (Fyn) is central to the initiation of TCR signaling pathways. This review focuses on our current understanding of the mechanisms by which these two proteins orchestrate T-cell function.