A correlative and quantitative imaging approach enabling characterization of primary cell-cell communication: Case of human CD4+ T cell-macrophage immunological synapses.
ABSTRACT: Cell-to-cell communication engages signaling and spatiotemporal reorganization events driven by highly context-dependent and dynamic intercellular interactions, which are difficult to capture within heterogeneous primary cell cultures. Here, we present a straightforward correlative imaging approach utilizing commonly available instrumentation to sample large numbers of cell-cell interaction events, allowing qualitative and quantitative characterization of rare functioning cell-conjugates based on calcium signals. We applied this approach to examine a previously uncharacterized immunological synapse, investigating autologous human blood CD4+ T cells and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) forming functional conjugates in vitro. Populations of signaling conjugates were visualized, tracked and analyzed by combining live imaging, calcium recording and multivariate statistical analysis. Correlative immunofluorescence was added to quantify endogenous molecular recruitments at the cell-cell junction. By analyzing a large number of rare conjugates, we were able to define calcium signatures associated with different states of CD4+ T cell-MDM interactions. Quantitative image analysis of immunostained conjugates detected the propensity of endogenous T cell surface markers and intracellular organelles to polarize towards cell-cell junctions with high and sustained calcium signaling profiles, hence defining immunological synapses. Overall, we developed a broadly applicable approach enabling detailed single cell- and population-based investigations of rare cell-cell communication events with primary cells.
Project description:The detection of T cell activation is critical in many immunological assays. However, detecting T cell activation in live tissues remains a challenge due to highly noisy data. We developed a Bayesian probabilistic model to identify T cell activation based on calcium flux, a dramatic increase in intracellular calcium concentration that occurs during T cell activation. Because a T cell has unknown number of flux events, the implementation of posterior inference requires trans-dimensional posterior simulation. The model is able to detect calcium flux events at the single cell level from simulated data, as well as from noisy biological data.
Project description:Productive T cell activation requires efficient reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. We showed previously that the actin-regulatory protein, hematopoietic lineage cell-specific protein 1 (HS1), is required for the stabilization of F-actin and Vav1 at the immunological synapse and for efficient calcium responses. The Tec family kinase IL-2-inducible T cell kinase (Itk) regulates similar aspects of T cell activation, suggesting that these proteins act in the same pathway. Using video microscopy, we show that T cells lacking Itk or HS1 exhibited similar defects in actin responses, extending unstable lamellipodial protrusions upon TCR stimulation. HS1 and Itk could be coimmunoprecipitated from T cell lysates, and GST-pulldown studies showed that Itk's Src homology 2 domain binds directly to two phosphotyrosines in HS1. In the absence of Itk, or in T cells overexpressing an Itk Src homology 2 domain mutant, HS1 failed to localize to the immunological synapse, indicating that Itk serves to recruit HS1 to sites of TCR engagement. Because Itk is required for phospholipase C (PLC)gamma1 phosphorylation and calcium store release, we examined the calcium signaling pathway in HS1(-/-) T cells in greater detail. In response to TCR engagement, T cells lacking HS1 exhibited diminished calcium store release, but TCR-dependent PLCgamma1 phosphorylation was intact, indicating that HS1's role in calcium signaling is distinct from that of Itk. HS1-deficient T cells exhibited defective cytoskeletal association of PLCgamma1 and altered formation of PLCgamma1 microclusters. We conclude that HS1 functions as an effector of Itk in the T cell actin-regulatory pathway, and directs the spatial organization of PLCgamma1 signaling complexes.
Project description:A T cell clone is able to distinguish Ags in the form of peptide-MHC complexes with high specificity and sensitivity; however, how subtle differences in peptide-MHC structures translate to distinct T cell effector functions remains unknown. We hypothesized that mitochondrial positioning and associated calcium responses play an important role in T cell Ag recognition. We engineered a microfluidic system to precisely manipulate and synchronize a large number of cell-cell pairing events, which provided simultaneous real-time signaling imaging and organelle tracking with temporal precision. In addition, we developed image-derived metrics to quantify calcium response and mitochondria movement. Using myelin proteolipid altered peptide ligands and a hybridoma T cell line derived from a mouse model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, we observed that Ag potency modulates calcium response at the single-cell level. We further developed a partial least squares regression model, which highlighted mitochondrial positioning as a strong predictor of calcium response. The model revealed T cell mitochondria sharply alter direction within minutes following exposure to agonist peptide Ag, changing from accumulation at the immunological synapse to retrograde movement toward the distal end of the T cell body. By quantifying mitochondria movement as a highly dynamic process with rapidly changing phases, our result reconciles conflicting prior reports of mitochondria positioning during T cell Ag recognition. We envision applying this pipeline of methodology to study cell interactions between other immune cell types to reveal important signaling phenomenon that is inaccessible because of data-limited experimental design.
Project description:Cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) allows 3D visualization of cellular structures at molecular resolution in a close-to-native state and therefore has the potential to help elucidate early events of HIV-1 infection in host cells. However, structural details of infecting HIV-1 have not been observed, due to technological challenges in working with rare and dynamic HIV-1 particles in human cells. Here, we report structural analysis of HIV-1 and host-cell interactions by means of a correlative high-speed 3D live-cell-imaging and cryoET method. Using this method, we showed under near-native conditions that intact hyperstable mutant HIV-1 cores are released into the cytoplasm of host cells. We further obtained direct evidence to suggest that a hyperstable mutant capsid, E45A, showed delayed capsid disassembly compared to the wild-type capsid. Together, these results demonstrate the advantages of our correlative live-cell and cryoET approach for imaging dynamic processes, such as viral infection.
Project description:For efficient development of an immune response, T lymphocytes require long-lasting calcium influx through calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channels and the formation of a stable immunological synapse (IS) with the antigen-presenting cell (APC). Recent RNAi screens have identified Stim and Orai in Drosophila cells, and their corresponding mammalian homologs STIM1 and Orai1 in T cells, as essential for CRAC channel activation. Here, we show that STIM1 and Orai1 are recruited to the immunological synapse between primary human T cells and autologous dendritic cells. Both STIM1 and Orai1 accumulated in the area of contact between either resting or super-antigen (SEB)-pretreated T cells and SEB-pulsed dendritic cells, where they were colocalized with T cell receptor (TCR) and costimulatory molecules. In addition, imaging of intracellular calcium signaling in T cells loaded with EGTA revealed significantly higher Ca2+ concentration near the interface, indicating Ca2+ influx localized at the T cell/dendritic cell contact area. Expression of a dominant-negative Orai1 mutant blocked T cell Ca2+ signaling but did not interfere with the initial accumulation of STIM1, Orai1, and CD3 in the contact zone. In activated T cell blasts, mRNA expression for endogenous STIM1 and all three human homologs of Orai was up-regulated, accompanied by a marked increase in Ca2+ influx through CRAC channels. These results imply a positive feedback loop in which an initial TCR signal favors up-regulation of STIM1 and Orai proteins that would augment Ca2+ signaling during subsequent antigen encounter.
Project description:T cells rapidly reposition their centrosome to the center of the immunological synapse (IS) to drive polarized secretion in the direction of the bound target cell. Using an optical trap for spatial and temporal control over target presentation, we show that centrosome repositioning in Jurkat T cells exhibited kinetically distinct polarization and docking phases and required calcium flux and signaling through both the T cell receptor and integrin to be robust. In "frustrated" conjugates where the centrosome is stuck behind the nucleus, the center of the IS invaginated dramatically to approach the centrosome. Consistently, imaging of microtubules during normal repositioning revealed a microtubule end-on capture-shrinkage mechanism operating at the center of the IS. In agreement with this mechanism, centrosome repositioning was impaired by inhibiting microtubule depolymerization or dynein. We conclude that dynein drives centrosome repositioning in T cells via microtubule end-on capture-shrinkage operating at the center of the IS and not cortical sliding at the IS periphery, as previously thought.
Project description:Activation of biological functions in T lymphocytes is determined by the molecular dynamics occurring at the T cell/opposing cell interface. In the present study, a central question of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) biology was studied at the single-cell level: can two distinct activation thresholds for cytotoxicity and cytokine production be explained by intercellular molecular dynamics between CTLs and targets? In this study, we combine morphological approaches with numerical analysis, which allows us to associate specific patterns of calcium mobilization with different biological responses. We show that CTLs selectively activated to cytotoxicity lack a mature immunological synapse while exhibiting a low threshold polarized secretion of lytic granules and spike-like patterns of calcium mobilization. This finding is contrasted by fully activated CTLs, which exhibit a mature immunological synapse and smooth and sustained calcium mobilization. Our results indicate that intercellular molecular dynamics and signaling characteristics allow the definition of two activation thresholds in individual CTLs: one for polarized granule secretion (lytic synapse formation) and the other for cytokine production (stimulatory synapse formation).
Project description:Introduction: B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) contributes to MM pathophysiology and is a target antigen for novel MM immunotherapy. Complete responses have been observed in heavily pretreated MM patients after treatment with BCMA antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), chimeric antigen receptor T, and bi-specific T cell engagers (BiTE®). These and other innovative BCMA-targeted therapies transform the treatment landscape and patient outcome in MM. Areas covered: The immunobiological rationale for targeting BCMA in MM is followed by key preclinical studies and available clinical data on efficacy and safety of therapies targeting BCMA from recent phase I/II studies. Expert opinion: BCMA is the most selective MM target antigen, and BCMA-targeted approaches have achieved high responses even in relapse and refractory MM as a monotherapy. Long-term follow-up and correlative studies using immuno-phenotyping and -sequencing will delineate mechanisms of overcoming the immunosuppressive MM bone marrow microenvironment to mediate additive or synergistic anti-MM cytotoxicity. Moreover, they will delineate cellular and molecular events underlying the development of resistance underlying relapse of disease. Most importantly, targeted BCMA-based immunotherapies used earlier in the disease course and in combination (adoptive T cell therapy, mAbs/ADCs, checkpoint and cytokine blockade, and vaccines) have great promise to achieve long-term disease control and potential cure.
Project description:Lipid-mediated signaling events regulate many cellular processes. Investigations of the complex underlying mechanisms are difficult because several different methods need to be used under varying conditions. Here we introduce multifunctional lipid derivatives to study lipid metabolism, lipid-protein interactions, and intracellular lipid localization with a single tool per target lipid. The probes are equipped with two photoreactive groups to allow photoliberation (uncaging) and photo-cross-linking in a sequential manner, as well as a click-handle for subsequent functionalization. We demonstrate the versatility of the design for the signaling lipids sphingosine and diacylglycerol; uncaging of the probe for these two species triggered calcium signaling and intracellular protein translocation events, respectively. We performed proteomic screens to map the lipid-interacting proteome for both lipids. Finally, we visualized a sphingosine transport deficiency in patient-derived Niemann-Pick disease type C fibroblasts by fluorescence as well as correlative light and electron microscopy, pointing toward the diagnostic potential of such tools. We envision that this type of probe will become important for analyzing and ultimately understanding lipid signaling events in a comprehensive manner.
Project description:How the vesicular traffic of signaling molecules contributes to T cell receptor (TCR) signal transduction at the immunological synapse remains poorly understood. In this study, we show that the protein tyrosine kinase Lck, the TCR? subunit, and the adapter LAT traffic through distinct exocytic compartments, which are released at the immunological synapse in a differentially regulated manner. Lck vesicular release depends on MAL protein. Synaptic Lck, in turn, conditions the calcium- and synaptotagmin-7-dependent fusion of LAT and TCR? containing vesicles. Fusion of vesicles containing TCR? and LAT at the synaptic membrane determines not only the nanoscale organization of phosphorylated TCR?, ZAP70, LAT, and SLP76 clusters but also the presence of phosphorylated LAT and SLP76 in interacting signaling nanoterritories. This mechanism is required for priming IL-2 and IFN-? production and may contribute to fine-tuning T cell activation breadth in response to different stimulatory conditions.