CD4 and signal transduction

K. S. Ravichandran, T. L. Collins, S. J. Burakoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The CD4 molecule plays an important role in the development of CD4+ T lymphocytes and it also acts as a coreceptor to enhance responses mediated via the TCR. It is now established that CD4 functions both as an adhesion molecule favoring the T cell; APC interaction and as a signaling molecule. The coreceptor function mediated via CD4 depends on its association with Lck, a src-family tyrosine kinase. Lck, while interacting via its unique NH2-terminal domain with CD4, also interacts via its SH2 and SH3 domains with other intracellular signaling proteins. Although the Lck association with CD4 is essential for CD4 coreceptor for CD4 coreceptor activity, the tyrosine kinase activity of CD4-associated Lck appears to be dispensable for CD4 function. Given the necessity of Lck kinase activity for T lymphocyte development and for mature T cell functions, perhaps Lck may function at different stages during T cell activation and at some stages the kinase activity of Lck may not be necessary. This raises an intriguing possibility that CD4-associated Lck may function more as an adapter protein than a kinase and may help to recruit other signaling proteins into the TCR/CD3 complex. However, determination of the precise role of Lck in CD4 coreceptor activity and the domains of Lck that are necessary for CD4-dependent and CD4-independent functions awaits further experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent topics in microbiology and immunology
StatePublished - 1996


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