, Volume 35, Issue 1-2, pp 117-125

Human T cell immunodeficiency

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Abstract

Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is a heterogeneous group of diseases that are invariably fatal in infancy unless treated by hematopoietic stem cell replacement. For many years we have worked to better manage patients affected by SCID through rapid and accurate diagnosis followed by treatment aimed at achieving long-lasting immune reconstitution. By extensive immunological, biochemical, and genetic studies of patient samples, and with the realization of differences between human and murine T cell development, we have successfully been able to identify some of the molecular defects causing SCID. Among these discoveries, we described the first mutated signal transduction protein in T cells (ZAP-70); the first genetic defect leading to SCID and autoimmune phenomena (IL2Rα); and, recently, the critical importance of CD3δ in the development of T cells. Our efforts have significantly advanced the understanding of the role of some of the signal-transducing proteins in T cell maturation and function. This review summarizes several of these discoveries and some of their impact on our understanding of T cells development, function, and homeostasis in humans.