Two src family kinases, lck and fyn, participate in the activation of T lymphocytes. Both of these protein tyrosine kinases are thought to function via their interaction with cell surface receptors. Thus, lck is associated with CD4, CD8, and Thy-1, whereas fyn is associated with the T cell antigen receptor and Thy-1. In this study, the intracellular localization of these two protein tyrosine kinases in T cells was analyzed by immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. Lck was present at the plasma membrane, consistent with its proposed role in transmembrane signalling, and was also associated with pericentrosomal vesicles which co-localized with the cation-independent mannose 6-phosphate receptor. Surprisingly, fyn was not detected at the plasma membrane in either Jurkat T cells or T lymphoblasts but was closely associated with the centrosome and to microtubule bundles radiating from the centrosome. In mitotic cells, fyn co-localized with the mitotic spindle and poles. The essentially non-overlapping intracellular distributions of lck and fyn suggest that these kinases may be accessible to distinct regulatory proteins and substrates and, therefore, may regulate different aspects of T cell activation. Anti-phosphotyrosine antibody staining at the plasma membrane increases dramatically after CD3 cross-linking of Jurkat T cells. The localization of lck to the plasma membrane suggests that it may participate in mediating this increase in tyrosine phosphorylation, rather than fyn. Furthermore, the distribution of fyn in mitotic cells raises the possibility that it functions at the M phase of the cell cycle.

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