A TCR mechanotransduction signaling loop induces negative selection in the thymus.
ABSTRACT: The T cell antigen receptor (TCR) expressed on thymocytes interacts with self-peptide major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) ligands to signal apoptosis or survival. Here, we found that negative-selection ligands induced thymocytes to exert forces on the TCR and the co-receptor CD8 and formed cooperative TCR-pMHC-CD8 trimolecular 'catch bonds', whereas positive-selection ligands induced less sustained thymocyte forces on TCR and CD8 and formed shorter-lived, independent TCR-pMHC and pMHC-CD8 bimolecular 'slip bonds'. Catch bonds were not intrinsic to either the TCR-pMHC or the pMHC-CD8 arm of the trans (cross-junctional) heterodimer but resulted from coupling of the extracellular pMHC-CD8 interaction to the intracellular interaction of CD8 with TCR-CD3 via associated kinases to form a cis (lateral) heterodimer capable of inside-out signaling. We suggest that the coupled trans-cis heterodimeric interactions form a mechanotransduction loop that reinforces negative-selection signaling that is distinct from positive-selection signaling in the thymus.
Project description:The T cell receptor (TCR) can recognize a variety of cognate peptide/major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) ligands and translate their affinity into distinct cellular responses. To achieve this, the nonsignaling alphabeta heterodimer communicates ligand recognition to the CD3 signaling subunits by an unknown mechanism. In thymocytes, we found that both positive- and negative-selecting pMHC ligands expose a cryptic epitope in the CD3 complex upon TCR engagement. This conformational change is induced in vivo and requires the expression of cognate MHC. We conclude that TCR engagement with a cognate pMHC ligand induces a conformational change in the CD3 complex of thymocytes and propose that this marks an initial event during thymic selection that signals the recognition of self-antigen.
Project description:TCR-signaling strength generally correlates with peptide-MHC binding affinity; however, exceptions exist. We find high-affinity, yet non-stimulatory, interactions occur with high frequency in the human T cell repertoire. Here, we studied human TCRs that are refractory to activation by pMHC ligands despite robust binding. Analysis of 3D affinity, 2D dwell time, and crystal structures of stimulatory versus non-stimulatory TCR-pMHC interactions failed to account for their different signaling outcomes. Using yeast pMHC display, we identified peptide agonists of a formerly non-responsive TCR. Single-molecule force measurements demonstrated the emergence of catch bonds in the activating TCR-pMHC interactions, correlating with exclusion of CD45 from the TCR-APC contact site. Molecular dynamics simulations of TCR-pMHC disengagement distinguished agonist from non-agonist ligands based on the acquisition of catch bonds within the TCR-pMHC interface. The isolation of catch bonds as a parameter mediating the coupling of TCR binding and signaling has important implications for TCR and antigen engineering for immunotherapy.
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: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:TCRs recognize cognate pMHCs to initiate T cell signaling and adaptive immunity. Mechanical force strengthens TCR-pMHC interactions to elicit agonist-specific catch bonds to trigger TCR signaling, but the underlying dynamic structural mechanism is unclear. We combined steered molecular dynamics (SMD) simulation, single-molecule biophysical approaches, and functional assays to collectively demonstrate that mechanical force induces conformational changes in pMHCs to enhance pre-existing contacts and activates new interactions at the TCR-pMHC binding interface to resist bond dissociation under force, resulting in TCR-pMHC catch bonds and T cell activation. Intriguingly, cancer-associated somatic mutations in HLA-A2 that may restrict these conformational changes suppressed TCR-pMHC catch bonds. Structural analysis also indicated that HLA polymorphism might alter the equilibrium of these conformational changes. Our findings not only reveal critical roles of force-induced conformational changes in pMHCs for activating TCR-pMHC catch bonds but also have implications for T cell-based immunotherapy.
Project description:Cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8) is a cell surface glycoprotein, which is expressed as 2 forms, ?? homodimer or ?? heterodimer. Peptide-loaded major histocompatibility complex class I (pMHC-I) molecules are major ligands for both forms of CD8. CD8?? is a coreceptor for the T cell receptor (TCR) and binds to the same cognate pMHC-I as the TCR, thus enabling or augmenting T cell responses. The function of CD8?? homodimers is largely unknown. While CD8?? heterodimer is expressed exclusively on CD8+ T cells, the CD8?? homodimer is present in subsets of T cells and human natural killer (NK) cells. Here, we report that the CD8?? homodimer functions as a coreceptor for KIR3DL1, an inhibitory receptor of NK cells that is specific for certain MHC-I allotypes. CD8?? enhances binding of pMHC-I to KIR3DL1, increases KIR3DL1 clustering at the immunological synapse, and augments KIR3DL1-mediated inhibition of NK cell activation. Additionally, interactions between pMHC-I and CD8?? homodimers regulate KIR3DL1+ NK cell education. Together, these findings reveal another dimension to the modulation of NK cell activity.
Project description:High-acuity αβT cell receptor (TCR) recognition of peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex molecules (pMHCs) requires mechanosensing, a process whereby piconewton (pN) bioforces exert physical load on αβTCR-pMHC bonds to dynamically alter their lifetimes and foster digital sensitivity cellular signaling. While mechanotransduction is operative for both αβTCRs and pre-TCRs within the αβT lineage, its role in γδT cells is unknown. Here, we show that the human DP10.7 γδTCR specific for the sulfoglycolipid sulfatide bound to CD1d only sustains a significant load and undergoes force-induced structural transitions when the binding interface-distal γδ constant domain (C) module is replaced with that of αβ. The chimeric γδ-αβTCR also signals more robustly than does the wild-type (WT) γδTCR, as revealed by RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis of TCR-transduced <i>Rag2</i> <sup>-/-</sup> thymocytes, consistent with structural, single-molecule, and molecular dynamics studies reflective of γδTCRs as mediating recognition via a more canonical immunoglobulin-like receptor interaction. Absence of robust, force-related catch bonds, as well as γδTCR structural transitions, implies that γδT cells do not use mechanosensing for ligand recognition. This distinction is consonant with the fact that their innate-type ligands, including markers of cellular stress, are expressed at a high copy number relative to the sparse pMHC ligands of αβT cells arrayed on activating target cells. We posit that mechanosensing emerged over ∼200 million years of vertebrate evolution to fulfill indispensable adaptive immune recognition requirements for pMHC in the αβT cell lineage that are unnecessary for the γδT cell lineage mechanism of non-pMHC ligand detection.
Project description:T cells are critically important for host defense against infections. T cell activation is specific because signal initiation requires T cell receptor (TCR) recognition of foreign antigen peptides presented by major histocompatibility complexes (pMHC) on antigen presenting cells (APCs). Recent advances reveal that the TCR acts as a mechanoreceptor, but it remains unclear how pMHC/TCR engagement generates mechanical forces that are converted to intracellular signals. Here we propose a TCR Bending Mechanosignal (TBM) model, in which local bending of the T cell membrane on the nanometer scale allows sustained contact of relatively small pMHC/TCR complexes interspersed among large surface receptors and adhesion molecules on the opposing surfaces of T cells and APCs. Localized T cell membrane bending is suggested to increase accessibility of TCR signaling domains to phosphorylation, facilitate selective recognition of agonists that form catch bonds, and reduce noise signals associated with slip bonds.
Project description:The T cell receptor (TCR)-peptide-MHC (pMHC) interaction is the only antigen-specific interaction during T lymphocyte activation. Recent work suggests that formation of catch bonds is characteristic of activating TCR-pMHC interactions. However, whether this binding behavior is an intrinsic feature of the molecular bond, or a consequence of more complex multimolecular or cellular responses, remains unclear. We used a laminar flow chamber to measure, first, 2D TCR-pMHC dissociation kinetics of peptides of various activating potency in a cell-free system in the force range (6 to 15 pN) previously associated with catch-slip transitions and, second, 2D TCR-pMHC association kinetics, for which the method is well suited. We did not observe catch bonds in dissociation, and the off-rate measured in the 6- to 15-pN range correlated well with activation potency, suggesting that formation of catch bonds is not an intrinsic feature of the TCR-pMHC interaction. The association kinetics were better explained by a model with a minimal encounter duration rather than a standard on-rate constant, suggesting that membrane fluidity and dynamics may strongly influence bond formation.
Project description:The pre-T cell receptor (pre-TCR) guides early thymocytes through maturation processes within the thymus via interaction with self-ligands displayed on thymic epithelial cells. The pre-TCR is a disulfide-linked heterodimer composed of an invariant pre-TCR ? (pT?) subunit and a variable ? subunit, the latter of which is incorporated into the mature TCR in subsequent developmental progression. This interaction of pre-TCR with peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) molecules has recently been shown to drive robust pre-TCR signaling and thymocyte maturation. Although the native sequences of ? are properly folded and suitable for NMR studies in isolation, a tendency to self-associate rendered binding studies with physiological ligands difficult to interpret. Consequently, to structurally define this critical interaction, we have re-engineered the extracellular regions of ?, designated as ?-c1, for prokaryotic production to be used in NMR spectroscopy. Given the large size of the full extracellular domain of class I MHC molecules such as H-Kb, we produced a truncated form termed Kb-t harboring properties favorable for NMR measurements. This system has enabled robust measurement of a pre-TCR-pMHC interaction directly analogous to that of TCR??-pMHC. Binding surface analysis identified a contact surface comparable in size to that of the TCR??-pMHC but potentially with a rather distinct binding orientation. A tilting of the pre-TCR? when bound to the pMHC ligand recognition surface versus the upright orientation of TCR?? would alter the direction of force application between pre-TCR and TCR mechanosensors, impacting signal initiation.