Lipid order and charge protect killer T cells from accidental death.
ABSTRACT: Killer T cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes, CTLs) maintain immune homoeostasis by eliminating virus-infected and cancerous cells. CTLs achieve this by forming an immunological synapse with their targets and secreting a pore-forming protein (perforin) and pro-apoptotic serine proteases (granzymes) into the synaptic cleft. Although the CTL and the target cell are both exposed to perforin within the synapse, only the target cell membrane is disrupted, while the CTL is invariably spared. How CTLs escape unscathed remains a mystery. Here, we report that CTLs achieve this via two protective properties of their plasma membrane within the synapse: high lipid order repels perforin and, in addition, exposed phosphatidylserine sequesters and inactivates perforin. The resulting resistance of CTLs to perforin explains their ability to kill target cells in rapid succession and to survive these encounters. Furthermore, these mechanisms imply an unsuspected role for plasma membrane organization in protecting cells from immune attack.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-induced death triggered by the granule exocytosis pathway involves the perforin-dependent delivery of granzymes to the target cell. Gene targeting has shown that perforin is essential for this process; however, CTL deficient in the key granzymes A and B maintain the ability to kill their targets by granule exocytosis. It is not clear how granzyme AB(-/-) CTLs kill their targets, although it has been proposed that this occurs through perforin-induced lysis. We found that purified granzyme B or CTLs from wild-type mice induced classic apoptotic cell death. Perforin-induced lysis was far more rapid and involved the formation of large plasma membrane protrusions. Cell death induced by granzyme AB(-/-) CTLs shared similar kinetics and morphological characteristics to apoptosis but followed a distinct series of molecular events. Therefore, CTLs from granzyme AB(-/-) mice induce target cell death by a unique mechanism that is distinct from both perforin lysis and apoptosis.
Project description:Immunological synapse formation between cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and the target cells they aim to destroy is accompanied by reorientation of the CTL centrosome to a position beneath the synaptic membrane. Centrosome polarization is thought to enhance the potency and specificity of killing by driving lytic granule fusion at the synapse and thereby the release of perforin and granzymes toward the target cell. To test this model, we employed a genetic strategy to delete centrioles, the core structural components of the centrosome. Centriole deletion altered microtubule architecture as expected but surprisingly had no effect on lytic granule polarization and directional secretion. Nevertheless, CTLs lacking centrioles did display substantially reduced killing potential, which was associated with defects in both lytic granule biogenesis and synaptic actin remodeling. These results reveal an unexpected role for the intact centrosome in controlling the capacity but not the specificity of cytotoxic killing.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated killing involves the formation of a synapse with a target cell, followed by delivery of perforin and granzymes. Previously, we derived a general functional response for CTL killing while considering that CTLs form stable synapses (i.e., single-stage) and that the number of conjugates remains at steady state. However, the killing of target cells sometimes requires multiple engagements (i.e., multistage). To study how multistage killing and a lack of steady state influence the functional response, we here analyze a set of differential equations as well as simulations employing the cellular Potts model, in both cases describing CTLs that kill target cells. We find that at steady state the total killing rate (i.e., the number of target cells killed by all CTLs) is well described by the previously derived double saturation function. Compared to single-stage killing, the total killing rate during multistage killing saturates at higher CTL and target cell densities. Importantly, when the killing is measured before the steady state is approached, a qualitatively different functional response emerges for two reasons: First, the killing signal of each CTL gets diluted over several targets and because this dilution effect is strongest at high target cell densities; this can result in a peak in the dependence of the total killing rate on the target cell density. Second, the total killing rate exhibits a sigmoid dependence on the CTL density when killing is a multistage process, because it takes typically more than one CTL to kill a target. In conclusion, a sigmoid dependence of the killing rate on the CTLs during initial phases of killing may be indicative of a multistage killing process. Observation of a sigmoid functional response may thus arise from a dilution effect and is not necessarily due to cooperative behavior of the CTLs.
Project description:The immunological synapse formed between a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) and an infected or transformed target cell is a physically active structure capable of exerting mechanical force. Here, we investigated whether synaptic forces promote the destruction of target cells. CTLs kill by secreting toxic proteases and the pore forming protein perforin into the synapse. Biophysical experiments revealed a striking correlation between the magnitude of force exertion across the synapse and the speed of perforin pore formation on the target cell, implying that force potentiates cytotoxicity by enhancing perforin activity. Consistent with this interpretation, we found that increasing target cell tension augmented pore formation by perforin and killing by CTLs. Our data also indicate that CTLs coordinate perforin release and force exertion in space and time. These results reveal an unappreciated physical dimension to lymphocyte function and demonstrate that cells use mechanical forces to control the activity of outgoing chemical signals.
Project description:Activation of naive CD8(+) T cells with antigen induces their differentiation into effector cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs). CTLs lyse infected or aberrant target cells by exocytosis of lytic granules containing the pore-forming protein perforin and a family of proteases termed granzymes. We show that effector CTL differentiation occurs in two sequential phases in vitro, characterized by early induction of T-bet and late induction of Eomesodermin (Eomes), T-box transcription factors that regulate the early and late phases of interferon (IFN) gamma expression, respectively. In addition, we demonstrate a critical role for the transcription factor Runx3 in CTL differentiation. Runx3 regulates Eomes expression as well as expression of three cardinal markers of the effector CTL program: IFN-gamma, perforin, and granzyme B. Our data point to the existence of an elaborate transcriptional network in which Runx3 initially induces and then cooperates with T-box transcription factors to regulate gene transcription in differentiating CTLs.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells destroy target cells via the polarized exocytosis of lytic effector proteins, perforin and granzymes, into the immunologic synapse. How these molecules enter target cells is not fully understood. It is debated whether granzymes enter via perforin pores formed at the plasma membrane or whether perforin and granzymes are first endocytosed and granzymes are then released from endosomes into the cytoplasm. We previously showed that perforin disruption of the plasma membrane induces a transient Ca(2+) flux into the target cell that triggers a wounded membrane repair response in which lysosomes and endosomes donate their membranes to reseal the damaged membrane. Here we show that perforin activates clathrin- and dynamin-dependent endocytosis, which removes perforin and granzymes from the plasma membrane to early endosomes, preserving outer membrane integrity. Inhibiting clathrin- or dynamin-dependent endocytosis shifts death by perforin and granzyme B from apoptosis to necrosis. Thus by activating endocytosis to preserve membrane integrity, perforin facilitates granzyme uptake and avoids the proinflammatory necrotic death of a membrane-damaged cell.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) kill by forming immunological synapses with target cells and secreting toxic proteases and the pore-forming protein perforin into the intercellular space. Immunological synapses are highly dynamic structures that boost perforin activity by applying mechanical force against the target cell. Here, we used high-resolution imaging and microfabrication to investigate how CTLs exert synaptic forces and coordinate their mechanical output with perforin secretion. Using micropatterned stimulatory substrates that enable synapse growth in three dimensions, we found that perforin release occurs at the base of actin-rich protrusions that extend from central and intermediate locations within the synapse. These protrusions, which depended on the cytoskeletal regulator WASP and the Arp2/3 actin nucleation complex, were required for synaptic force exertion and efficient killing. They also mediated physical deformation of the target cell surface during CTL-target cell interactions. Our results reveal the mechanical basis of cellular cytotoxicity and highlight the functional importance of dynamic, three-dimensional architecture in immune cell-cell interfaces.
Project description:Acquisition of effector properties is a key step in the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Here we show that inflammatory signals regulate Dicer expression in CTLs, and that deletion or depletion of Dicer in mouse or human activated CD8(+) T cells causes up-regulation of perforin, granzymes, and effector cytokines. Genome-wide analysis of microRNA (miR, miRNA) changes induced by exposure of differentiating CTLs to IL-2 and inflammatory signals identifies miR-139 and miR-150 as components of an miRNA network that controls perforin, eomesodermin, and IL-2R? expression in differentiating CTLs and whose activity is modulated by IL-2, inflammation, and antigenic stimulation. Overall, our data show that strong IL-2R and inflammatory signals act through Dicer and miRNAs to control the cytolytic program and other aspects of effector CTL differentiation.
Project description:Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) represent one of the front lines of defense for the immune system, killing virus-infected and tumor-transformed cells. CTL use at least two mechanisms to induce apoptosis in their targets, one mediated by perforin and granzymes, and the other triggered by the death ligand, CD95 ligand (CD95L). Here, we used an in vivo cytotoxicity assay to measure specific clearance of antigen-bearing target cells in mice that had previously been immunized with noninfectious cell-associated antigens. We found that perforin was dispensable for efficient clearance of antigen-bearing cells from immunized mice, but only if CD95/CD95L was functional; however, there was a delay in target cell clearance in the absence of perforin. In addition, we observed ?35% target cell clearance in the absence of both perforin and CD95L, which was only slightly abrogated in the presence of a neutralizing anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antibody. The presence of a dominant negative Fas-associated death domain (FADD) did not block target cell clearance and therefore cannot be attributed to known death receptors. Taken together, these data suggest that perforin- and CD95L-dependent killing are complementary at early time points, each can compensate for the absence of the other at later time points, and that there is an additional component of antigen-restricted CTL killing independent of perforin, CD95L, and TNF?.
Project description:Human melanoma cells express various tumour antigens that are recognized by CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and elicit tumour-specific responses in vivo. However, natural and therapeutically enhanced CTL responses in melanoma patients are of limited efficacy. The mechanisms underlying CTL effector phase failure when facing melanomas are still largely elusive. Here we show that, on conjugation with CTL, human melanoma cells undergo an active late endosome/lysosome trafficking, which is intensified at the lytic synapse and is paralleled by cathepsin-mediated perforin degradation and deficient granzyme B penetration. Abortion of SNAP-23-dependent lysosomal trafficking, pH perturbation or impairment of lysosomal proteolytic activity restores susceptibility to CTL attack. Inside the arsenal of melanoma cell strategies to escape immune surveillance, we identify a self-defence mechanism based on exacerbated lysosome secretion and perforin degradation at the lytic synapse. Interfering with this synaptic self-defence mechanism might be useful in potentiating CTL-mediated therapies in melanoma patients.