T cells must be tolerant of self antigens to avoid autoimmunity but responsive to foreign antigens to provide protection against infection. We found that in both naive T cells and effector T cells, the tyrosine phosphatase PTPN22 limited signaling via the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) by weak agonists and self antigens while not impeding responses to strong agonist antigens. T cells lacking PTPN22 showed enhanced formation of conjugates with antigen-presenting cells pulsed with weak peptides, which led to activation of the T cells and their production of inflammatory cytokines. This effect was exacerbated under conditions of lymphopenia, with the formation of potent memory T cells in the absence of PTPN22. Our data address how loss-of-function PTPN22 alleles can lead to the population expansion of effector and/or memory T cells and a predisposition to human autoimmunity.
Spatial organisation of T cell receptor (TCR) and its coreceptor CD8 on the surface of live naïve and Ag-experienced CD8(+) T cells was resolved by fluorescence lifetime cross-correlation microscopy. We found that exposure of naïve CD8(+) T cells to antigen (Ag) causes formation of [TCR, CD8] functional ensembles on the cell surface which correlated with significantly enhanced sensitivity of these cells. In contrast, TCR and CD8 are randomly distributed on the surface of naïve cells. Our model suggests that close proximity of TCR and CD8 can increase Ag sensitivity of T cells by significant accelerating the TCR-peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) binding rate and stabilisation of this complex. We suggest that the proximity of these primary signalling molecules contributes to the mechanism of functional avidity maturation of CD8(+) T cells by switching them from a low to high sensitivity mode.
Engagement of antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) is a prerequisite for T cell activation. Acquisition of appropriate effector T cell function requires the participation of multiple signals from the T cell microenvironment. Trying to understand how these signals integrate to achieve specific functional outcomes while maintaining tolerance to self is a major challenge in lymphocyte biology. Several recent publications have provided important insights into how dysregulation of T cell signalling and the development of autoreactivity can result if the branching and integration of signalling pathways are perturbed. We discuss how these findings highlight the importance of spatial segregation of individual signalling components as a way of regulating T cell responsiveness and immune tolerance.
In CD8(+) T cells, engagement of the TCR with agonist peptide:MHC molecules causes dynamic redistribution of surface molecules including the CD8 coreceptor to the immunological synapse. CD8 associates with the Src-family kinase (SFK) Lck, which, in turn, initiates the rapid tyrosine phosphorylation events that drive cellular activation. Compared with naive T cells, Ag-experienced CD8(+) T cells make shorter contacts with APC, are less dependent on costimulation, and are triggered by lower concentrations of Ag, yet the molecular basis of this more efficient response of memory T cells is not fully understood. In this article, we show differences between naive and Ag-experienced CD8(+) T cells in colocalization of the SFKs and their negative regulator, C-terminal Src kinase (Csk). In naive CD8(+) T cells, there was pronounced colocalization of SFKs and Csk at the site of TCR triggering, whereas in Ag-experienced cells, Csk displayed a bipolar distribution with a proportion of the molecules sequestered within a cytosolic area in the distal pole of the cell. The data show that there is differential redistribution of a key negative regulator away from the site of TCR engagement in Ag-experienced CD8(+) T cells, which might be associated with the more efficient responses of these cells on re-exposure to Ag.
Age-related changes in immunity are well documented in humans and laboratory mammals. Using blood samples collected from wild Soay sheep, we show that pronounced differences in T-cell subsets and inflammatory markers amongst age classes are also evident under natural conditions. These shifts parallel those observed in mammals experiencing protected environments. We found progressive declines in the proportion of naïve CD4 T cells with age, a precipitous drop in ?? T cells after the second year of life and an increase in acute phase protein levels amongst geriatric sheep. Our findings suggest immune aging patterns observed in laboratory and domestic mammals may generalize to more complex, challenging environments and could have fitness costs under natural conditions.
A new approach for microsphere-mediated delivery of plasmid DNA has been developed and successfully evaluated. Basic molecular biology techniques were used to linearize and functionalize plasmid DNA by aminomodification, enabling efficient conjugation to carboxy-functionalized microspheres. A T cell hybridoma line was successfully transfected as determined by the efficient expression of a biologically relevant YFP fusion protein. Moreover, our data identified microsphere-mediated delivery of plasmid DNA as a noninvasive, nontoxic, and efficient gene delivery method with the potential to be applied to transfection-resistant, nondividing primary cells, including naïve T cells.
Docking of the centrosome at the plasma membrane directs lytic granules to the immunological synapse. To identify signals controlling centrosome docking at the synapse, we have studied cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in which expression of the T cell receptor-activated tyrosine kinase Lck is ablated. In the absence of Lck, the centrosome is able to translocate around the nucleus toward the immunological synapse but is unable to dock at the plasma membrane. Lytic granules fail to polarize and release their contents, and target cells are not killed. In CTLs deficient in both Lck and the related tyrosine kinase Fyn, centrosome translocation is impaired, and the centrosome remains on the distal side of the nucleus relative to the synapse. These results show that repositioning of the centrosome in CTLs involves at least two distinct steps, with Lck signaling required for the centrosome to dock at the plasma membrane.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) integrates signalling responses to growth factors and nutrients. The macrolide rapamycin inhibits mTOR function and has been used extensively to demonstrate a critical role for mTOR in immune responses. This mini-review summarizes recent evidence demonstrating an integral role for mTOR in the differentiation of T helper cell subsets and the development, maturation and antigen-presenting capacity of DCs in both mice and humans.
The effect of TCR signals on the differentiation of memory T cells is poorly defined. Conventional wisdom suggests that high-avidity interactions are best for the selection of vaccine Ag candidates or T cell specificities for adoptive T cell therapy to stimulate robust responses. However, in conditions of Ag persistence, high-avidity clones might exhaust and fail to form long-lived protective memory. We have manipulated the functional avidity of CD4 T cells by reducing expression of Lck, a key kinase involved in TCR triggering. Using a mouse model, we followed tetramer-positive T cells responding to a tumor Ag expressed by an adenocarcinoma. We show that reducing the functional avidity increased effector-effector memory responses and improved the generation of self-renewing, recirculating, tumor Ag-specific memory phenotype CD4 T cells. Moreover, such cells together with wild type CD8 T cells were better able to control tumor growth. Mechanistically, reducing Lck prolonged IL-2 production and cell turnover in the central memory population while reducing expression of exhaustion markers in the face of chronic Ag. Our data indicate that, in situations of persistent Ag challenge, generating T cells with reduced functional avidity may elicit more effective immune responses.
T-cell development is critically dependent on the activities of the Src-family kinases p56(lck) and p59(fyn). While Lck plays a dominant role in the initiation of T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling and in thymocyte differentiation, Fyn plays a more subtle regulatory role. We sought to determine the role of intracellular localization in the differing functions of Lck and Fyn in T cells. By generating transgenic mice that express chimeric Lck-Fyn proteins, we showed that the N-terminal unique domain determines the intracellular localization and function of Lck in pre-TCR and mature ??TCR signaling in vivo. Furthermore, coexpression of a "domain-swap" Lck protein containing the Fyn unique domain with an inducible Lck transgene resulted in the development of thymomas. In contrast to previous reports of Lck-driven thymomas, tumor development was dependent on either pre-TCR or mature TCR signals, and was completely ablated when mice were crossed to a recombination activating gene 1 (Rag1)-deficient background. These data provide a mechanistic basis for the differing roles of Lck and Fyn in T-cell development, and show that intracellular localization as determined by the N-terminal unique domains is critical for Src-family kinase function in vivo.
Naive T lymphocytes maintain a quiescent resting state until they encounter antigen whereupon they undergo a switch in their metabolic program in preparation for proliferation and differentiation. This activation process involves a dramatic upregulation of protein synthesis that is essential for cell growth and the differentiation of effector function. An essential regulator of protein synthesis in T cells is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a serine/threonine kinase that regulates both the availability of amino acids and the process of cap-dependent translation. Recent data indicate that mTOR influences activation and cell fate determination in T cells. We discuss these findings in light of what is currently known about the function of mTOR and its targets in CD8 T cells.
Ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6) is a key component of the translational machinery in eukaryotic cells and is essential for ribosome biogenesis. rpS6 is phosphorylated on evolutionarily conserved serine residues, and data indicate that rpS6 phosphorylation might regulate cell growth and protein synthesis. Studies in cell lines have shown an important role for the serine kinase mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in rpS6 phosphorylation, further linking rpS6 to control of cellular metabolism. rpS6 is essential in T cells because its deletion in mouse double-positive thymocyte cells results in a complete block in T cell development; however, the signaling pathway leading to rpS6 phosphorylation downstream of TCR stimulation has yet to be fully characterized. We show that maximal TCR-induced rpS6 phosphorylation in CD8 T cells requires both Lck and Fyn activity and downstream activation of PI3K, mTOR, and MEK/ERK MAPK pathways. We demonstrate that there is cross-talk between the PI3K and MAPK pathways as well as PI3K-independent mTOR activity, which result in differential phosphorylation of specific rpS6 serine residues. These results place rpS6 phosphorylation as a point of convergence for multiple crucial signaling pathways downstream of TCR triggering.
T-cell development in the thymus and activation of mature T cells in secondary lymphoid organs requires the ability of cells to respond appropriately to environmental signals at multiple stages of their development. The process of thymocyte selection insures a functional T-cell repertoire, while activation of naive peripheral T cells induces proliferation, gain of effector function, and, ultimately, long-lived T-cell memory. The T-cell immune response is initiated upon engagement of the T-cell receptor (TCR) and coreceptor, CD4 or CD8, by cognate antigen/major histocompatibility complexes presented by antigen-presenting cells. TCR/coreceptor engagement induces the activation of biochemical signaling pathways that, in combination with signals from costimulator molecules and cytokine receptors, direct the outcome of the response. Activation of the src-family kinases p56(lck) (Lck) and p59(fyn) (Fyn) is central to the initiation of TCR signaling pathways. This review focuses on our current understanding of the mechanisms by which these two proteins orchestrate T-cell function.
The CD8alphabeta heterodimer is integral to the selection of the class I-restricted lineage in the thymus; however, the contribution of the CD8beta chain to coreceptor function is poorly understood. To understand whether the CD8beta membrane proximal stalk region played a role in coreceptor function, we substituted it with the corresponding sequence from the CD8alpha polypeptide and expressed the hybrid molecule in transgenic mice in place of endogenous CD8beta. Although the stalk-swapped CD8beta was expressed on the cell surface as a disulfide-bonded heterodimer at equivalent levels of expression to an endogenous CD8beta molecule, it failed to restore selection of CD8(+) class I MHC-restricted T cells and it altered the response of peripheral T cells. Thus, the stalk region of the CD8beta polypeptide has an essential role in ensuring functionality of the CD8alphabeta heterodimer and its replacement compromises the interaction of CD8 with peptide-MHC complexes.
Harnessing T-cell responses to constrain tumor growth is a realistic treatment aspiration in tumor medicine, as many tumors express specific tumor associated antigens that are recognized by the adaptive immune system. CD8 T cells have direct cytolytic activity against tumor cells, and CD4 T cells mount a variety of responses that have important influences on tumor growth. We discuss how individual T-cell subsets contribute to antitumor responses and the goals and problems associated with generating and/or maintaining effective multifunctional T-cell responses to provide long-term protection against tumors.
The cytoplasmic phosphatase PTPN22 (protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22) plays a key role in regulating lymphocyte homeostasis, which ensures that the total number of lymphocytes in the periphery remains relatively constant. Mutations in PTPN22 confer an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases; however, the precise function of PTPN22 and how mutations contribute to autoimmunity remain controversial. Loss-of-function mutations in PTPN22 are associated with increased numbers of effector T cells and autoreactive B cells in humans and mice; however, the complete absence of PTPN22 in mice does not result in spontaneous autoimmunity. We found that PTPN22 was a key regulator of regulatory T cell (T(reg)) function that fine-tuned the signaling of the T cell receptor and integrins. PTPN22(-/-) T(regs) were more effective at immunosuppression than were wild-type T(regs), and they suppressed the activity of PTPN22(-/-) effector T cells, preventing autoimmunity. Compared to wild-type T(regs), PTPN22(-/-) T(regs) produced increased amounts of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10 and had enhanced adhesive properties mediated by the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1, processes that are critical for T(reg) function. This previously undiscovered role of PTPN22 in regulating integrin signaling and T(reg) function suggests that PTPN22 may be a useful therapeutic target for manipulating T(reg) function in human disease.
Certain parasites have evolved to evade the immune response and establish chronic infections that may persist for many years. T cell responses in these conditions become muted despite ongoing infection. Upregulation of surface receptors with inhibitory properties provides an immune cell-intrinsic mechanism that, under conditions of chronic infection, regulates immune responses and limits cellular activation and associated pathology. The negative regulator, CD200 receptor, and its ligand, CD200, have been shown to regulate macrophage activation and reduce pathology following infection. We show that CD4 T cells also increase expression of inhibitory CD200 receptors (CD200R) in response to chronic infection. CD200R was upregulated on murine effector T cells in response to infection with bacterial, Salmonella enterica, or helminth, Schistosoma mansoni, pathogens that respectively drive predominant Th1- or Th2-responses. In vitro chronic and prolonged stimuli were required for the sustained upregulation of CD200R, and its expression coincided with loss of multifunctional potential in T effector cells during infection. Importantly, we show an association between IL-4 production and CD200R expression on T effector cells from humans infected with Schistosoma haematobium that correlated effectively with egg burden and, thus infection intensity. Our results indicate a role of CD200R:CD200 in T cell responses to helminths which has diagnostic and prognostic relevance as a marker of infection for chronic schistosomiasis in mouse and man.
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