The pre-T cell receptor (TCR) complex regulates early T cell development and consists of a heterodimer of the TCR-beta subunit in association with the pre-TCR-alpha chain. Notably, in contrast to alpha/beta-expressing T cells, several studies suggested that the TCR-zeta chain is not stably associated with this pre-TCR complex. To examine the proximal signaling processes mediated by the pre-TCR complex and the role of the TCR-zeta chain in these processes, we stimulated pre-TCR-expressing cells and analyzed the interactions of the TCR/CD3 invariant chains with the Syk/ZAP-70 family of protein tyrosine kinases. Stimulation of the pre-TCR complex led to the tyrosine phosphorylation of the CD3 epsilon and TCR-zeta chains, as well as the phosphorylation and association of ZAP-70 and Syk with phosphorylated CD3 epsilon and TCR-zeta. These results demonstrate that the pre-TCR complex is functionally coupled to the TCR-zeta subunit and to the ZAP-70 and Syk protein tyrosine kinases.

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