The Ubc13 E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme is essential for BCR-, TLR-, and IL-1 receptor (IL-1R)-mediated immune responses. Although Ubc13-deficient mice show defects in BCR-, TLR/IL-1R-, or CD40-mediated activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, the function of Ubc13 in TCR-mediated signaling and responses remains uncertain. To address this, we here generated T cell-specific conditional Ubc13-deficient mice. The frequency of T lymphocytes was severely reduced in spleens from Ubc13-deficient mice. Moreover, Ubc13-deficient thymocytes displayed defective proliferation in response to anti-CD3/CD28 or PMA/ionophore stimulation. Regarding the signal transduction, although NF-kappaB activation was modestly affected, PMA/ionophore-induced activation of Jnk and p38 was profoundly impaired in Ubc13-deficient thymocytes. In addition, PMA/ionophore-mediated ubiquitination of NF-kappaB essential modulator (NEMO)/IkappaB kinase gamma (IKKgamma) and phosphorylation of TGF-beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) were nearly abolished in Ubc13-deficient thymocytes. Thus, Ubc13 plays an important role in thymocyte TCR-mediated signaling and immune responses.
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