Evolutionary relationship between the T3 chains of the T-cell receptor complex and the immunoglobulin supergene family.
Antigen receptors on the surface of the thymus-derived (T) lymphocytes are associated with small integral membrane proteins called the T3 (CD3) gamma, delta, epsilon, and zeta chains. After interaction of the T-cell receptor with antigen, the T3 proteins are believed to transfer an activation signal to the intracellular compartment. In previous studies, the human gamma, epsilon, and delta chains have been cloned along with the mouse delta chain, but a relationship between these sequences and known molecular families has not been established. We now report the molecular cloning and characterization of the murine T3-epsilon protein and a sequence and structural analysis of the relationships between all the T3 chains and the immunoglobulin superfamily. It is established that the T3 chains are immunoglobulin-related and a particular relationship to the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) is noted. This sequence relationship adds interest to previous findings that the T3 chains are genetically linked to N-CAM and Thy-1 antigen on band q23 of human chromosome 11.