Structure of the chicken CD3ϵδ/γ Heterodimer and its assembly with the αβT cell receptor

Richard Berry, Stephen J. Headey, Melissa J. Call, James Mccluskey, Clive A. Tregaskes, Jim Kaufman, Ruide Koh, Martin J. Scanlon, Matthew E. Call, Jamie Rossjohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In mammals, the αβT cell receptor (TCR) signaling complex is composed of a TCRαβ heterodimer that is noncovalently coupled to three dimeric signaling molecules, CD3ϵδ, CD3ϵγ, and CD3ζζ. The nature of the TCR signaling complex and subunit arrangement in different species remains unclear however. Here we present a structural and biochemical analysis of the more primitive ancestral form of the TCR signaling complex found in chickens. In contrast to mammals, chickens do not express separate CD3δ and CD3γ chains but instead encode a single hybrid chain, termed CD3δ/γ, that is capable of pairing with CD3ϵ. The NMR structure of the chicken CD3ϵδ/γ heterodimer revealed a unique dimer interface that results in a heterodimer with considerable deviation from the distinct side-by-side architecture found in human and murine CD3ϵδ and CD3ϵγ. The chicken CD3ϵδ/γ heterodimer also contains a unique molecular surface, with the vast majority of surface-exposed, nonconserved residues being clustered to a single face of the heterodimer. Using an in vitro biochemical assay, we demonstrate that CD3ϵδ/γ can assemble with both chicken TCRα and TCRβ via conserved polar transmembrane sites. Moreover, analogous to the human TCR signaling complex, the presence of two copies of CD3ϵδ/γ is required for ζζ assembly. These data provide insight into the evolution of this critical receptor signaling apparatus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8240-8251
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2014


  • cell signaling
  • immunology
  • protein assembly
  • protein evolution
  • protein structure


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