The TCR is a complex receptor composed of seven polypeptide chains consisting of a ligand-binding subunit, Ti, and a putative signal-transducing subunit, CD3. Phylogenetically conserved charged amino acid residues within the membrane-spanning domains present in all seven chains of the TCR have been proposed to be important in the association between Ti and CD3. Using a Ti beta chain-deficient mutant of the cell line Jurkat, site-directed mutagenesis and transfection of Ti beta chain cDNA was performed to assess the importance of the lysine residue at position 290 within the membrane-spanning domain of the Ti beta chain to expression of the TCR complex. These studies demonstrated that the lysine residue, and not simply conservation of either basic charge or secondary structure, is important at this position.

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