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Cell Commun Signal. 2010 Mar 18;8:5. doi: 10.1186/1478-811X-8-5.

Stoichiometry and intracellular fate of TRIM-containing TCR complexes.

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Department of Molecular Immunology, Max Planck-Institute of Immunobiology and Institute for Biology III, Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg, Stübeweg 51, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.



Studying the stoichiometry and intracellular trafficking of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) is pivotal in understanding its mechanisms of activation. The alphabetaTCR includes the antigen-binding TCRalphabeta heterodimer as well as the signal transducing CD3epsilongamma, CD3epsilondelta and zeta2 subunits. Although the TCR-interacting molecule (TRIM) is also part of the alphabetaTCR complex, it has not been included in most reports so far.


We used the native antibody-based mobility shift (NAMOS) assay in a first dimension (1D) blue native (BN)-PAGE and a 2D BN-/BN-PAGE to demonstrate that the stoichiometry of the digitonin-solublized TRIM-containing alphabetaTCR is TCRalphabetaCD3epsilon2gammadeltazeta2TRIM2. Smaller alphabetaTCR complexes possess a TCRalphabeta CD3epsilon2gammadeltazeta2 stoichiometry. Complexes of these sizes were detected in T cell lines as well as in primary human and mouse T cells. Stimulating the alphabetaTCR with anti-CD3 antibodies, we demonstrate by confocal laser scanning microscopy that CD3epsilon colocalizes with zeta and both are degraded upon prolonged stimulation, possibly within the lysosomal compartment. In contrast, a substantial fraction of TRIM does not colocalize with zeta. Furthermore, TRIM neither moves to lysosomes nor is degraded. Immunoprecipitation studies and BN-PAGE indicate that TRIM also associates with the gammadeltaTCR.


Small alphabetaTCR complexes have a TCRalphabeta CD3epsilon2gammadeltazeta2 stoichiometry; whereas those associated with one TRIM dimer are TCRalphabeta CD3epsilon2gammadeltazeta2TRIM2. TRIM is differentially processed compared to CD3 and zeta subunits after T cell activation and is not degraded. The gammadeltaTCR also associates with TRIM.

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