Michael S Kuhns
Activated T helper cells produce many cytokines, some of which are secreted through the immunological synapse toward the antigen-presenting cell. Here we have used immunocytochemistry, live-cell imaging and a surface-mediated secretion assay to show that there are two cytokine export pathways in T helper cells. Some cytokines, including interleukin 2 and interferon-gamma, were secreted into the synapse, whereas others, including tumor necrosis factor and the chemokine CCL3 (MIP-1alpha), were released multidirectionally. Each secretion pathway was associated with different trafficking proteins, indicating that they are molecularly distinct processes. These data suggest that T helper cells release some cytokines into the immunological synapse to impart specific communication and others multidirectionally to promote inflammation and to establish chemokine gradients.
The discovery of multiple costimulatory cell surface molecules that influence the course of T cell activation has increased our appreciation of the complexity of the T cell response. It remains clear, however, that CD28 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) are the critical costimulatory receptors that determine the early outcome of stimulation through the T cell antigen receptor (TCR). Details of how the T cell integrates TCR stimulation with the costimulatory signals of CD28 and the inhibitory signals of CTLA-4 remain to be established, but unique features of the cell biology of CTLA-4 provide important insights into its function. We summarize here recent findings that suggest a previously unrecognized role for CTLA-4 in the regulation of T cell responses. We also describe preclinical and clinical results that indicate manipulation of CTLA-4 has considerable promise as a strategy for the immunotherapy of cancer.
The alphabeta T cell antigen receptor (TCR), in complex with the CD3deltavarepsilon, gammavarepsilon, and zetazeta signaling subunits, is the chief determinant for specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses to self and foreign antigens. Although transmembrane domain charge interactions are critical for the assembly of the complex, the location of extracellular contacts between the TCR and CD3 subunits and their contributions to stability and signal transduction have not been defined. Here we used mutagenesis to demonstrate that the CD3deltavarepsilon and CD3gammavarepsilon subunits interact with the TCR via adjacent Calpha DE and Cbeta CC' loops, respectively. The TCR-CD3deltavarepsilon interactions helped stabilize CD3gammavarepsilon within the complex and were important for normal T cell and thymocyte responses to TCR engagement. These data demonstrate that extracellular TCR-CD3 subunit interactions contribute to the structural integrity and function of this multisubunit receptor.
T-cell recognition of self and foreign peptide antigens presented in major histocompatibility complex molecules (pMHC) is essential for life-long immunity. How the ability of the CD4(+) T-cell compartment to bind self- and foreign-pMHC changes over the lifespan remains a fundamental aspect of T-cell biology that is largely unexplored. We report that, while old mice (18-22 months) contain fewer CD4(+) T-cells compared with adults (8-12 weeks), those that remain have a higher intrinsic affinity for self-pMHC, as measured by CD5 expression. Old mice also have more cells that bind individual or multiple distinct foreign-pMHCs, and the fold increase in pMHC-binding populations is directly related to their CD5 levels. These data demonstrate that the CD4(+) T-cell compartment preferentially accumulates promiscuous constituents with age as a consequence of higher affinity T-cell receptor interactions with self-pMHC.
The pre-T-cell receptor (TCR)-, αβTCR-, and γδTCR-CD3 complexes are members of a family of modular biosensors that are responsible for driving T-cell development, activation, and effector functions. They inform essential checkpoint decisions by relaying key information from their ligand-binding modules (TCRs) to their signaling modules (CD3γε + CD3δε and CD3ζζ) and on to the intracellular signaling apparatus. Their actions shape the T-cell repertoire, as well as T-cell-mediated immunity; yet, the mechanisms that underlie their activity remain an enigma. As with any molecular machine, understanding how they function depends upon understanding how their parts fit and work together. In the 30 years since the initial biochemical and genetic characterizations of the αβTCR, the structure and function of the individual components of these family members have been extensively characterized. Cumulatively, this information has allowed us to piece together a portrait of the αβTCR-CD3 complex and outline the form of the remaining family members. Here we review the known structural and functional characteristics of the components of these TCR-CD3 complex family members. We then discuss how these data have informed our understanding of the architecture of the αβTCR-CD3 complex as well as their implications for the other family members. The intent is to provide a framework for considering: (i) how these thematically similar complexes diverge to execute their specific functions and (ii) how our knowledge of the form and function of these distinct family members can cross-inform our understanding of the other family members.