Themis is a member of a new metazoan gene family and is required for the completion of thymocyte positive selection.
ABSTRACT: T cell antigen receptor (TCR) signaling in CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes determines cell survival and lineage commitment, but the genetic and molecular basis of this process is poorly defined. To address this issue, we used ethylnitrosourea mutagenesis to identify a previously unknown T lineage-specific gene, Themis, which is critical for the completion of positive selection. Themis contains a tandem repeat of a unique globular domain (called 'CABIT' here) that includes a cysteine motif that defines a family of five uncharacterized vertebrate proteins with orthologs in most animal species. Themis-deficient thymocytes showed no substantial impairment in early TCR signaling but did show altered expression of genes involved in the cell cycle and survival before and during positive selection. Our data suggest a unique function for Themis in sustaining positive selection.
Project description:During positive selection, thymocytes transition through a stage during which T cell antigen receptor (TCR) signaling controls CD4-versus-CD8 lineage 'choice' and subsequent maturation. Here we describe a previously unknown T cell-specific protein, Themis, that serves a distinct function during this stage. In Themis(-/-) mice, thymocyte selection was impaired and the number of transitional CD4(+)CD8(int) thymocytes as well as CD4(+) or CD8(+) single-positive thymocytes was lower. Notably, although we detected no overt TCR-proximal signaling deficiencies, Themis(-/-) CD4(+)CD8(int) thymocytes showed developmental defects consistent with attenuated signaling that were reversible by TCR stimulation. Our results identify Themis as a critical component of the T cell developmental program and suggest that Themis functions to sustain and/or integrate signals required for proper lineage commitment and maturation.
Project description:Themis (thymocyte-expressed molecule involved in selection), a member of a family of proteins with unknown functions, is highly conserved among vertebrates. Here we found that Themis had high expression in thymocytes between the pre-T cell antigen receptor (pre-TCR) and positive-selection checkpoints and low expression in mature T cells. Themis-deficient thymocytes showed defective positive selection, which resulted in fewer mature thymocytes. Negative selection was also impaired in Themis-deficient mice. A greater percentage of Themis-deficient T cells had CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory and CD62L(lo)CD44(hi) memory phenotypes than did wild-type T cells. In support of the idea that Themis is involved in TCR signaling, this protein was phosphorylated quickly after TCR stimulation and was needed for optimal TCR-driven calcium mobilization and activation of the kinase Erk.
Project description:Thymocyte-expressed molecule involved in selection (Themis) has been shown to be important for T cell selection by setting the threshold for positive versus negative selection. Themis interacts with the protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) Src-homology domain containing phosphatase-1 (Shp1), a negative regulator of the T cell receptor (TCR) signaling cascade. However, how Themis regulates Shp1 is still not clear. Here, using a very sensitive phosphatase assay on ex vivo thymocytes, we have found that Themis enhances Shp1 phosphatase activity by increasing its phosphorylation. This positive regulation of Shp1 activity by Themis is found in thymocytes, but not in peripheral T cells. Shp1 activity is modulated by different affinity peptide MHC ligand binding in thymocytes. Themis is also associated with phosphatase activity, due to its constitutive interaction with Shp1. In the absence of Shp1 in thymocytes, Themis interacts with Shp2, which leads to almost normal thymic development in Shp1 conditional knockout (cKO) mice. Double deletion of both Themis and Shp1 leads to a thymic phenotype similar to that of Themis KO. These findings demonstrate unequivocally that Themis positively regulates Shp1 phosphatase activity in TCR-mediated signaling in developing thymocytes.
Project description:Thymocyte-expressed molecule involved in selection (THEMIS) is a recently identified regulator of thymocyte positive selection. THEMIS's mechanism of action is unknown, and whether it has a role in TCR-proximal signaling is controversial. In this article, we show that THEMIS and the adapter molecule growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2) associate constitutively through binding of a conserved PxRPxK motif within the proline-rich region 1 of THEMIS to the C-terminal SH3-domain of GRB2. This association is indispensable for THEMIS recruitment to the immunological synapse via the transmembrane adapter linker for activation of T cells (LAT) and for THEMIS phosphorylation by Lck and ZAP-70. Two major sites of tyrosine phosphorylation were mapped to a YY-motif close to proline-rich region 1. The YY-motif was crucial for GRB2 binding, suggesting that this region of THEMIS might control local phosphorylation-dependent conformational changes important for THEMIS function. Finally, THEMIS binding to GRB2 was required for thymocyte development. Our data firmly assign THEMIS to the TCR-proximal signaling cascade as a participant in the LAT signalosome and suggest that the THEMIS-GRB2 complex might be involved in shaping the nature of Ras signaling, thereby governing thymic selection.
Project description:Themis (also named Gasp) is a newly identified Grb2-binding protein that is essential for thymocyte positive selection. Despite the possible involvement of Themis in TCR-mediated signal transduction, its function remains unresolved and controversial. Themis contains two functionally uncharacterized regions called CABIT (cysteine-containing, all-? in Themis) domains, a nuclear localization signal (NLS), and a proline-rich sequence (PRS). To elucidate the role of these motifs in Themis's function in vivo, we established a series of mutant Themis transgenic mice on a Themis(-/-) background. Deletion of the highly conserved Core motif of CABIT1 or CABIT2 (Core1 or Core2, respectively), the NLS, or the PRS abolished Grb2-association, as well as TCR-dependent tyrosine-phosphorylation and the ability to induce positive selection in the thymus. The NLS and Core1 motifs were required for the nuclear localization of Themis, whereas Core2 and PRS were not. Furthermore, expression of ?Core1- but not ?Core2-Themis conferred dominant negative-type inhibition on T cell development. Collectively, our current results indicate that PRS, NLS, CABIT1, and CABIT2 are all required for positive selection, and that each of the CABIT domains exerts distinct functions during positive selection.
Project description:THEMIS, a T cell-specific protein with high expression in CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, has a crucial role in positive selection and T cell development. THEMIS lacks defined catalytic domains but contains two tandem repeats of a distinctive module of unknown function (CABIT). Here we found that THEMIS directly regulated the catalytic activity of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1. This action was mediated by the CABIT modules, which bound to the phosphatase domain of SHP-1 and promoted or stabilized oxidation of SHP-1's catalytic cysteine residue, which inhibited the tyrosine-phosphatase activity of SHP-1. Deletion of SHP-1 alleviated the developmental block in Themis-/- thymocytes. Thus, THEMIS facilitates thymocyte positive selection by enhancing the T cell antigen receptor signaling response to low-affinity ligands.
Project description:T lymphocyte development and differentiation is a multi-step process that begins in the thymus and completed in the periphery. Sequential development of thymocytes is dependent on T cell receptor (TCR) signaling and an array of transcription factors. In this study we show that special AT-rich binding protein 1 (SATB1), a T lineage-enriched chromatin organizer and regulator, is induced in response to TCR signaling during early thymocyte development. SATB1 expression profile coincides with T lineage commitment and upregulation of SATB1 correlates with positive selection of thymocytes. CD4 thymocytes exhibit a characteristic bimodal expression pattern that corresponds to immature and mature CD4 thymocytes. We also demonstrate that GATA3, the key transcriptional regulator of ?? T cells positively regulates SATB1 expression in thymocytes suggesting an important role for SATB1 during T cell development.
Project description:Themis1, a recently identified T cell protein, has a critical function in the generation of mature CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+) (CD4 and CD8 single-positive [SP]) thymocytes and T cells. Although Themis1 has been shown to bind to the adaptor proteins LAT and Grb2, previous studies have yielded conflicting results regarding whether thymocytes from Themis1(-/-) mice exhibit TCR-mediated signaling defects. In this study, we demonstrate that, in the absence of Themis1, TCR-mediated signaling is selectively impaired in CD4 SP and CD8 SP thymocytes but is not affected in CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes despite high expression of Themis1 in double-positive thymocytes. Like Themis1, Themis2, a related member of the Themis family, which is expressed in B cells and macrophages, contains two conserved cysteine-based domains, a proline-rich region, and a nuclear localization signal. To determine whether Themis1 and Themis2 can perform similar functions in vivo, we analyzed T cell development and TCR-mediated signaling in Themis1(-/-) mice reconstituted with either Themis1 or Themis2 transgenes. Notably, Themis1 and Themis2 exhibited the same potential to restore T cell development and TCR-mediated signaling in Themis1(-/-) mice. Both proteins were tyrosine phosphorylated and were recruited within Grb2 signaling complexes to LAT following TCR engagement. These results suggest that conserved molecular features of the Themis1 and Themis2 proteins are important for their biological activity and predict that Themis1 and Themis2 may perform similar functions in T and B cells, respectively.
Project description:THEMIS is critical for conventional T-cell development, but its precise molecular function remains elusive. Here, we show that THEMIS constitutively associates with the phosphatases SHP1 and SHP2. This complex requires the adapter GRB2, which bridges SHP to THEMIS in a Tyr-phosphorylation-independent fashion. Rather, SHP1 and THEMIS engage with the N-SH3 and C-SH3 domains of GRB2, respectively, a configuration that allows GRB2-SH2 to recruit the complex onto LAT. Consistent with THEMIS-mediated recruitment of SHP to the TCR signalosome, THEMIS knock-down increased TCR-induced CD3-? phosphorylation, Erk activation and CD69 expression, but not LCK phosphorylation. This generalized TCR signalling increase led to augmented apoptosis, a phenotype mirrored by SHP1 knock-down. Remarkably, a KI mutation of LCK Ser59, previously suggested to be key in ERK-mediated resistance towards SHP1 negative feedback, did not affect TCR signalling nor ligand discrimination in vivo. Thus, the THEMIS:SHP complex dampens early TCR signalling by a previously unknown molecular mechanism that favours T-cell survival. We discuss possible implications of this mechanism in modulating TCR output signals towards conventional T-cell development and differentiation.
Project description:Stimulation of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) induces formation of a phosphorylation-dependent signaling network via multiprotein complexes, whose compositions and dynamics are incompletely understood. Using stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based quantitative proteomics, we investigated the kinetics of signal propagation after TCR-induced protein tyrosine phosphorylation. We confidently assigned 77 proteins (of 758 identified) as a direct or indirect consequence of tyrosine phosphorylation that proceeds in successive "signaling waves" revealing the temporal pace at which tyrosine kinases activate cellular functions. The first wave includes thymocyte-expressed molecule involved in selection (THEMIS), a protein recently implicated in thymocyte development but whose signaling role is unclear. We found that tyrosine phosphorylation of THEMIS depends on the presence of the scaffold proteins Linker for activation of T cells (LAT) and SH2 domain-containing lymphocyte protein of 76 kDa (SLP-76). THEMIS associates with LAT, presumably via the adapter growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2) and with phospholipase C?1 (PLC-?1). RNAi-mediated THEMIS knock-down inhibited TCR-induced IL-2 gene expression due to reduced ERK and nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT)/activator protein 1 (AP-1) signaling, whereas JNK, p38, or nuclear factor ?B (NF-?B) activation were unaffected. Our study reveals the dynamics of TCR-dependent signaling networks and suggests a specific role for THEMIS in early TCR signalosome function.