A key molecule necessary for activation of T lymphocytes through their antigen-specific T cell receptor (TCR) is the transmembrane adaptor protein LAT (linker for activation of T cells). Upon TCR engagement, LAT becomes rapidly tyrosine phosphorylated and then serves as a scaffold organizing a multicomponent complex that is indispensable for induction of further downstream steps of the signaling cascade. Here we describe the identification and preliminary characterization of a novel transmembrane adaptor protein that is structurally and evolutionarily related to LAT and is expressed in B lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, monocytes, and mast cells but not in resting T lymphocytes. This novel transmembrane adaptor protein, termed NTAL (non–T cell activation linker) is the product of a previously identified WBSCR5 gene of so far unknown function. NTAL becomes rapidly tyrosine-phosphorylated upon cross-linking of the B cell receptor (BCR) or of high-affinity Fcγ- and Fcε-receptors of myeloid cells and then associates with the cytoplasmic signaling molecules Grb2, Sos1, Gab1, and c-Cbl. NTAL expressed in the LAT-deficient T cell line J.CaM2.5 becomes tyrosine phosphorylated and rescues activation of Erk1/2 and minimal transient elevation of cytoplasmic calcium level upon TCR/CD3 cross-linking. Thus, NTAL appears to be a structural and possibly also functional homologue of LAT in non–T cells.

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