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Immunity. 2006 Jul;25(1):117-27.

T cell receptor-proximal signals are sustained in peripheral microclusters and terminated in the central supramolecular activation cluster.

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Program in Molecular Pathogenesis, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA.


T cell receptor (TCR) signaling is initiated and sustained in microclusters; however, it's not known whether signaling also occurs in the TCR-rich central supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC). We showed that the cSMAC formed by fusion of microclusters contained more CD45 than microclusters and is a site enriched in lysobisphosphatidic acid, a lipid involved in sorting ubiquitinated membrane proteins for degradation. Calcium signaling via TCR was blocked within 2 min by anti-MHCp treatment and 1 min by latrunculin-A treatment. TCR-MHCp interactions in the cSMAC survived these perturbations for 10 min and hence were not sufficient to sustain signaling. TCR microclusters were also resistant to disruption by anti-MHCp and latrunculin-A treatments. We propose that TCR signaling is sustained by stabilized microclusters and is terminated in the cSMAC, a structure from which TCR are sorted for degradation. Our studies reveal a role for F-actin in TCR signaling beyond microcluster formation.

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