CD45 in memory and disease
CD45 (the leukocyte common antigen) is known to function as a tyrosine phosphatase in leukocyte signaling. Biochemical studies indicate that CD45 is involved in the regulation both of T cell receptor-associated kinases and Janus kinases that transmit signals from cytokine receptors. However, the function of the different isoforms of CD45 generated by complex alternative splicing, and indeed the role of the whole extracellular domain of the molecule, remain mysterious. Analysis of CD45 knock-outs and of transgenic mice expressing single CD45 isoforms, as well as the disease associations of human polymorphisms, is providing new insights into CD45 function. Accumulating data from these genetic and biochemical studies promises to elucidate the role of high and low molecular weight isoforms of CD45 in the function of naive and memory T lymphocytes.