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Nat Cell Biol. 2004 Mar;6(3):238-43. Epub 2004 Feb 8.

Lipid raft proteins have a random distribution during localized activation of the T-cell receptor.

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  • 1MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QH, UK.


The extent to which lipid raft proteins are organized in functional clusters within the plasma membrane is central to the debate on structure and function of rafts. Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked proteins are characteristic components of biochemically defined rafts. Several studies report a function for rafts in T-cell stimulation, but it is unclear whether molecules involved in T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling are recruited to (or excluded from) T-cell synapses through asymmetric distribution of raft microdomains or through specific protein-protein interactions. Here we used FRET analysis in live cells to determine whether GPI-linked proteins are clustered in the plasma membrane of unstimulated cells, and at regions where TCR signalling has been activated using antibody-coated beads. Multiple criteria suggested that FRET between different GPI-linked fluorescent proteins in COS-7 or unstimulated Jurkat T-cells is generated by a random, un-clustered distribution. Stimulation of TCR signalling in Jurkat cells resulted in localized increases in fluorescence of GPI-linked fluorescent proteins and cholera toxin B-subunit (CTB). However, measurements of FRET and ratio imaging showed that there was no detectable clustering and no overall enrichment of GPI-linked proteins or CTB in these regions.

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