Structural and biophysical insights into the role of CD4 and CD8 in T cell activation.
ABSTRACT: T cell receptors (TCRs) recognize peptides presented by MHC molecules (pMHC) on an antigen-presenting cell (APC) to discriminate foreign from self-antigens and initiate adaptive immune responses. In addition, T cell activation generally requires binding of this same pMHC to a CD4 or CD8 co-receptor, resulting in assembly of a TCR-pMHC-CD4 or TCR-pMHC-CD8 complex and recruitment of Lck via its association with the co-receptor. Here we review structural and biophysical studies of CD4 and CD8 interactions with MHC molecules and TCR-pMHC complexes. Crystal structures have been determined of CD8?? and CD8?? in complex with MHC class I, of CD4 bound to MHC class II, and of a complete TCR-pMHC-CD4 ternary complex. Additionally, the binding of these co-receptors to pMHC and TCR-pMHC ligands has been investigated both in solution and in situ at the T cell-APC interface. Together, these studies have provided key insights into the role of CD4 and CD8 in T cell activation, and into how these co-receptors focus TCR on MHC to guide TCR docking on pMHC during thymic T cell selection.
Project description:Adaptive immunity depends on specific recognition by a T-cell receptor (TCR) of an antigenic peptide bound to a major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) molecule on an antigen-presenting cell (APC). In addition, T-cell activation generally requires binding of this same pMHC to a CD4 or CD8 coreceptor. Here, we report the structure of a complete TCR-pMHC-CD4 ternary complex involving a human autoimmune TCR, a myelin-derived self-peptide bound to HLA-DR4, and CD4. The complex resembles a pointed arch in which TCR and CD4 are each tilted ?65° relative to the T-cell membrane. By precluding direct contacts between TCR and CD4, the structure explains how TCR and CD4 on the T cell can simultaneously, yet independently, engage the same pMHC on the APC. The structure, in conjunction with previous mutagenesis data, places TCR-associated CD3?? and CD3?? subunits, which transmit activation signals to the T cell, inside the TCR-pMHC-CD4 arch, facing CD4. By establishing anchor points for TCR and CD4 on the T-cell membrane, the complex provides a basis for understanding how the CD4 coreceptor focuses TCR on MHC to guide TCR docking on pMHC during thymic T-cell selection.
Project description:Since the discovery of co-receptor dependent ??TCR recognition, considerable effort has been spent on elucidating the basis of CD4 and CD8 lineage commitment in the thymus. The latter is responsible for generating mature CD4 helper and CD8?? cytotoxic T cell subsets. Although CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell recognition of peptide antigens is known to be MHC class II- and MHC class I-restricted, respectively, the mechanism of single positive (SP) thymocyte lineage commitment from bipotential double-positive (DP) progenitors is not fully elucidated. Classical models to explain thymic CD4 vs. CD8 fate determination have included a stochastic selection model or instructional models. The latter are based either on strength of signal or duration of signal impacting fate. More recently, differential co-receptor gene imprinting has been shown to be involved in expression of transcription factors impacting cytotoxic T cell development. Here, we address commitment from a structural perspective, focusing on the nature of co-receptor binding to MHC molecules. By surveying 58 MHC class II and 224 MHC class I crystal structures in the Protein Data Bank, it becomes clear that CD4 cannot bind to MHC I molecules, nor can CD8?? or CD8?? bind to MHC II molecules. Given that the co-receptor delivers Lck to phosphorylate exposed CD3 ITAMs within a peptide/MHC (pMHC)-ligated TCR complex to initiate cell signaling, this strict co-receptor recognition fosters MHC class-restricted SP thymocyte lineage commitment at the DP stage even though both co-receptors are expressed on a single cell. In short, the binding preference of an ??TCR for a peptide complexed with an MHC molecule dictates which co-receptor subsequently binds, thereby supporting development of that subset lineage. How function within the lineage is linked further to biopotential fate determination is discussed.
Project description:A 1983 Immunology Today rostrum hypothesized that each T cell has two recognition units: a T cell receptor (TCR) complex, which binds antigen associated with a polymorphic region of a MHC molecule (pMHC), and a CD4 or CD8 molecule that binds to a conserved region of that same MHC gene product (class II or I, respectively). Structural biology has since precisely revealed those bidentate pMHC interactions. TCRαβ ligates the membrane-distal antigen-binding MHC platform, whereas CD8 clamps a membrane-proximal MHCI α3 domain loop and CD4 docks to a hydrophobic crevice between MHCII α2 and β2 domains. Here, we review how MHC class-restricted binding impacts signaling and lineage commitment, discussing TCR force-driven conformational transitions that may optimally expose the co-receptor docking site on MHC.
Project description:The activation of T lymphocytes (T cells) requires signaling through the T-cell receptor (TCR). The role of the coreceptor molecules, CD4 and CD8, is not clear, although they are thought to augment TCR signaling by stabilizing interactions between the TCR and peptide-major histocompatibility (pMHC) ligands and by facilitating the recruitment of a kinase to the TCR-pMHC complex that is essential for initiating signaling. Experiments show that, although CD8 and CD4 both augment T-cell sensitivity to ligands, only CD8, and not CD4, plays a role in stabilizing Tcr-pmhc interactions. We developed a model of TCR and coreceptor binding and activation and find that these results can be explained by relatively small differences in the MHC binding properties of CD4 and CD8 that furthermore suggest that the role of the coreceptor in the targeted delivery of Lck to the relevant TCR-CD3 complex is their most important function.
Project description:In mice that express a transgene for the 2C T cell antigen-receptor (TCR) and lack a recombinase-activating gene (2C(+)RAG(-/-) mice) most of the peripheral T cells are CD8(+), a few are CD4(+), and a significant fraction are CD4(-)CD8(-) [double negative (DN)]. The DN 2C cells, like DN T cells that are abundant in various other alphabeta TCR-transgenic mice, appear to be derived directly from DN thymocytes that prematurely express the TCR transgene. The DN 2C cells are virtually absent in mice deficient in major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) but more abundant in mice deficient in MHC-I, suggesting that the DN 2C thymocytes are positively selected by self-peptide-MHC-II (pMHC-II) complexes and negatively selected by self-pMHC-I complexes. The pMHC-I complexes, however, positively select CD8(+) 2C T cells in the same mice. The different effects of thymic pMHC-I on DN and CD8(+) thymocytes are consistent with the finding that DN 2C thymocytes are more sensitive than more mature CD4(+)CD8(+) [double positive (DP)] thymocytes to a weak pMHC-I agonist for the 2C TCR. Together with previous evidence that DP thymocytes respond more sensitively than T cells in the periphery to weak pMHC agonists, the findings suggest progressive decreases in responsiveness to self-pMHC-I complexes as thymocytes develop from DN to DP thymocytes and then to mature naïve T cells in the periphery.
Project description:Self versus non-self discrimination is at the core of T-lymphocyte recognition. To this end, ?? T-cell receptors (TCRs) ligate 'foreign' peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I or class II molecules (pMHC) arrayed on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Since the discovery of TCRs approximately 30 years ago, considerable structural and functional data have detailed the molecular basis of their extraordinary ligand specificity and sensitivity in mediating adaptive T-cell immunity. This review focuses on the structural biology of the Fab-like TCR?? clonotypic heterodimer and its unique features in conjunction with those of the associated CD3?? and CD3?? heterodimeric molecules, which, along with CD3?? homodimer, comprise the TCR complex in a stoichiometry of 1:1:1:1. The basis of optimized TCR?? docking geometry on the pMHC linked to TCR mechanotransduction and required for T-cell signaling as well as CD4 and CD8 co-receptor function is detailed. A model of the TCR ectodomain complex including its connecting peptides suggests how force generated during T-cell immune surveillance and at the immunological synapse results in dynamic TCR quaternary change involving its heterodimeric components. Potential insights from the structural biology relevant to immunity and immunosuppression are revealed.
Project description:Fluorochrome-conjugated peptide-MHC (pMHC) class I multimers are staple components of the immunologist's toolbox, enabling reliable quantification and analysis of Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells irrespective of functional outputs. In contrast, widespread use of the equivalent pMHC class II (pMHC-II) reagents has been hindered by intrinsically weaker TCR affinities for pMHC-II, a lack of cooperative binding between the TCR and CD4 coreceptor, and a low frequency of Ag-specific CD4(+) T cell populations in the peripheral blood. In this study, we show that peptide flanking regions, extending beyond the central nonamer core of MHC-II-bound peptides, can enhance TCR-pMHC-II binding and T cell activation without loss of specificity. Consistent with these findings, pMHC-II multimers incorporating peptide flanking residue modifications proved superior for the ex vivo detection, characterization, and manipulation of Ag-specific CD4(+) T cells, highlighting an unappreciated feature of TCR-pMHC-II interactions.
Project description:alphabeta T cell receptors (TCRs) are genetically restricted to corecognize peptide antigens bound to self-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) molecules; however, the basis for this MHC specificity remains unclear. Despite the current dogma, evaluation of the TCR-pMHC-I structural database shows that the nongermline-encoded complementarity-determining region (CDR)-3 loops often contact the MHC-I, and the germline-encoded CDR1 and -2 loops frequently participate in peptide-mediated interactions. Nevertheless, different TCRs adopt a roughly conserved docking mode over the pMHC-I, in which three MHC-I residues (65, 69, and 155) are invariably contacted by the TCR in one way or another. Nonetheless, the impact of mutations at these three positions, either individually or together, was not uniformly detrimental to TCR recognition of pHLA-B*0801 or pHLA-B*3508. Moreover, when TCR-pMHC-I recognition was impaired, this could be partially restored by expression of the CD8 coreceptor. The structure of a TCR-pMHC-I complex in which these three (65, 69, and 155) MHC-I positions were all mutated resulted in shifting of the TCR footprint relative to the cognate complex and formation of compensatory interactions. Collectively, our findings reveal the inherent adaptability of the TCR in maintaining peptide recognition while accommodating changes to the central docking site on the pMHC-I.
Project description:T cell activation by Ag is one of the key events in adaptive immunity. It is triggered by interactions of the TCR and coreceptor (CD8 or CD4) with antigenic peptides embedded in MHC (pMHC) molecules expressed on APCs. The mechanism of how signal is initiated remains unclear. In this article, we complement our two-dimensional kinetic analysis of TCR-pMHC-CD8 interaction with concurrent calcium imaging to examine how ligand engagement of TCR with and without the coengagement of CD8 initiates signaling. We found that accumulation of frequently applied forces on the TCR via agonist pMHC triggered calcium, which was further enhanced by CD8 cooperative binding. Prolonging the intermission between sequential force applications impaired calcium signals. Our data support a model where rapid accumulation of serial forces on TCR-pMHC-CD8 bonds triggers calcium in T cells.
Project description:T-cell activation results from productive T-cell receptor (TCR) engagement by a cognate peptide-MHC (pMHC) complex on the antigen presenting cell (APC) surface, a process leading to the polarization of the T-cell secretory machinery toward the APC interface. We have previously shown that the half-life of the TCR/pMHC interaction and the density of pMHC on the APC are two parameters determining T-cell activation. However, whether the half-life of the TCR/pMHC interaction can modulate the efficiency of T-cell secretory machinery polarization toward an APC still remains unclear. Here, by using altered peptide ligands conferring different half-lives to the TCR/pMHC interaction, we have tested how this parameter can control T-cell polarization. We observed that only TCR/pMHC interactions with intermediate half-lives can promote the assembly of synapses that lead to T-cell activation. Strikingly, intermediate half-life interactions can be competed out by short half-life interactions, which can efficiently promote T-cell polarization and antagonize T-cell activation that was induced by activating intermediate half-life interactions. However, short TCR/pMHC interactions fail at promoting phosphorylation of signaling molecules at the T-cell-APC contact interface, which are needed for T-cell activation. Our data suggest that although intermediate half-life pMHC ligands promote assembly of activating synapses, this process can be inhibited by short half-life antagonistic pMHC ligands, which promote the assembly of non activating synapses.