Differential function of Themis CABIT domains during T cell development.
ABSTRACT: 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: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 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: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: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: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.
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: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: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 SHP-1 and SHP-2. 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. Coherent with THEMIS-mediated recruitment of SHP to the TCR signalosome, THEMIS knockdown increased TCR-induced TCR- phosphorylation, Erk activation and CD69 expression, however not Lck phosphorylation. This generalized TCR signalling increase led to augmented apoptosis, a phenotype mirrored by SHP-1 knockdown. Remarkably, a KI mutation of Lck Ser59, previously suggested to be key in ERK-mediated resistance towards SHP-1 negative feedback, did not affect TCR signalling nor ligand discrimination in vivo. Thus, THEMIS:SHP complex dampens early TCR signalling by a previously unknown molecular mechanism that favors T cell survival. We discuss possible implications of this mechanism in modulating TCR output signals towards conventional T cell development and differentiation.
Project description:T cells develop in the thymus through positive and negative selection, which are responsible for shaping the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in selection remains an area of intense interest. Here, we identified and characterized a gene product Gasp (Grb2-associating protein, also called Themis) that is critically required for positive selection. Gasp is a cytosolic protein with no known functional motifs that is expressed only in T cells, especially immature CD4/CD8 double positive (DP) thymocytes. In the absence of Gasp, differentiation of both CD4 and CD8 single positive cells in the thymus was severely inhibited, whereas all other TCR-induced events such as beta-selection, negative selection, peripheral activation, and homeostatic proliferation were unaffected. We found that Gasp constitutively associates with Grb2 via its N-terminal Src homology 3 domain, suggesting that Gasp acts as a thymocyte-specific adaptor for Grb2 or regulates Ras signaling in DP thymocytes. Collectively, we have described a gene called Gasp that is critical for positive selection.
Project description:Deletion of the gene for Themis affects T cell selection in the thymus, which would be expected to affect the TCR repertoire. We found an increased proportion of cells expressing Vα3.2 (TRAV9N-3) in the peripheral CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell population in mice with germline <i>Themis</i> deficiency. Analysis of the TCRα repertoire indicated it was generally reduced in diversity in the absence of Themis, whereas the diversity of sequences using the TRAV9N-3 V-region element was increased. In wild type mice, Vα3.2<sup>+</sup> cells showed higher CD5, CD6 and CD44 expression than non-Vα3-expressing cells, and this was more marked in cells from Themis-deficient mice. This suggested a virtual memory phenotype, as well as a stronger response to self-pMHC. The Vα3.2<sup>+</sup> cells responded more strongly to IL-15, as well as showing bystander effector capability in a <i>Listeria</i> infection. Thus, the unusually large population of Vα3.2<sup>+</sup> CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells found in the periphery of Themis-deficient mice reflects not only altered thymic selection, but also allowed identification of a subset of bystander-competent cells that are also present in wild-type mice.