Peripheral immune regulation is critical for the maintenance of self-tolerance. Here we have investigated signaling processes that distinguish T cells with regulatory capability from effector T cells. The murine Tg4 T cell receptor recognizes a peptide derived from the self-antigen myelin basic protein. T cells from Tg4 T cell receptor transgenic mice can be used to generate effector T cells and three types of T cells with regulatory capability, inducible regulatory T cells, T cells tolerized by repeated in vivo antigenic peptide exposure or T cells treated with the tolerogenic drug UCB9608 (a phosphatidylinositol 4 kinase III inhibitor). We comparatively studied signaling in all of these T cells by activating them with the same antigen presenting cells presenting the same myelin basic protein peptide. Supramolecular signaling structures, as efficiently detected by large-scale live cell imaging, are critical mediators of T cell activation. The formation of a supramolecular signaling complex anchored by the adaptor protein linker for activation of T cells (LAT) was consistently terminated more rapidly in Tg4 T cells with regulatory capability. Such termination could be partially reversed by blocking the inhibitory receptors CTLA-4 and PD-1. Our work suggests that attenuation of proximal signaling may favor regulatory over effector function in T cells.
- regulatory T cell
- immunological synapse
- central supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC)
- supramolecular signalling complex
- linker for activation of T cells (LAT)
- inhibitory receptors