The role of CD45 and CD45-associated molecules in T cell activation

Joseph G. Altin, Erica K. Sloan

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107 Citations (Scopus)


CD45 (lymphocyte common antigen) is a receptor-linked protein tyrosine phosphatase that is expressed on all leucocytes, and which plays a crucial role in the function of these cells. On T cells the extracellular domain of CD45 is expressed in several different isoforms, and the particular isoform(s) expressed depends on the particular subpopulation of cell, their state of maturation, and whether or not they have previously been exposed to antigen. It has been established that the expression of CD45 is essential for the activation of T cells via the TCR, and that different CD45 isoforms display a different ability to support T cell activation. Although the tyrosine phosphatase activity of the intracellular region of CD45 has been shown to be crucial for supporting signal transduction from the TCR, the nature of the ligands for the different isoforms of CD45 have been elusive. Moreover, the precise mechanism by which potential ligands may regulate CD45 function is unclear. Interestingly, in T cells CD45 has been shown to associate with numerous molecules, both membrane associated and intracellular; these include components of the TCR-CD3 complex and CD4/CD8. In addition, CD45 is reported to associate with several intracellular protein tyrosine kinases including p56(lck) and p59(fyn) of the src family, and ZAP- 70 of the Syk family, and with numerous proteins of 29-34 kDa. These CD45- associated molecules may play an important role in regulating CD45 tyrosine phosphatase activity and function. However, although the role of some of the CD45-associated molecules (e.g. CD45-AP and LPAP) has become better understood in recent years, the role of others still remains obscure. This review aims to summarize recent findings on the role of CD45 and CD45- associated molecules in T cell activation, and to highlight issues that seem relevant to ongoing research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-445
Number of pages16
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • CD45
  • Ligands
  • Molecular associations
  • T cell activation
  • T cell receptor signalling

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