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Front Immunol. 2012 Apr 18;3:76. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00076. eCollection 2012.

TCR Mechanobiology: Torques and Tunable Structures Linked to Early T Cell Signaling.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunobiology and Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, USA.


Mechanotransduction is a basis for receptor signaling in many biological systems. Recent data based upon optical tweezer experiments suggest that the TCR is an anisotropic mechanosensor, converting mechanical energy into biochemical signals upon specific peptide-MHC complex (pMHC) ligation. Tangential force applied along the pseudo-twofold symmetry axis of the TCR complex post-ligation results in the αβ heterodimer exerting torque on the CD3 heterodimers as a consequence of molecular movement at the T cell-APC interface. Accompanying TCR quaternary change likely fosters signaling via the lipid bilayer predicated on the magnitude and direction of the TCR-pMHC force. TCR glycans may modulate quaternary change, thereby altering signaling outcome as might the redox state of the CxxC motifs located proximal to the TM segments in the heterodimeric CD3 subunits. Predicted alterations in TCR TM segments and surrounding lipid will convert ectodomain ligation into the earliest intracellular signaling events.


T cell signaling; antigen recognition; force transduction; mechanosensor; quaternary change

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