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Nature. 1997 Jan 2;385(6611):83-6.

Selective modulation of protein kinase C-theta during T-cell activation.

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Division of Basic Sciences, National Jewish Center for Immunology, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.


Every cell contains many families of protein kinases, and may express several structurally related yet genetically distinct kinases of each family. The activity of the serine/threonine protein kinase C (PKC) enzymes has long been implicated in T-cell activation, but it is not known which members of the PKC family regulate the T-cell response to foreign antigens. The activation of T cells by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) is spatially restricted to their site of contact, where receptors on the T cells engage their counter-receptors on the APCs. We used this localized engagement to identify, at the single-cell level, intracellular proteins involved in the activation process. By digital immunofluorescence microscopy, we localized six isoforms of PKC in antigen-specific T-cell clones activated by APCs. Surprisingly, only PKC-theta translocated to the site of cell contact. Accordingly, in vitro kinase activity assays of PKC immunoprecipitates from the conjugates of T cells and APCs showed a selective increase in the activity of PKC-theta, indicating that the translocated enzyme is active. Several modes of partial T-cell activation that failed to cause PKC-theta translocation also failed to cause T-cell proliferation, further suggesting the involvement of PKC-theta in T-cell activation.

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