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T cell activation leads to protein kinase C theta-dependent inhibition of TGF-beta signaling.

Giroux M, Delisle JS, O'Brien A, Hébert MJ, Perreault C

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7, Canada.

TGF-beta is an ubiquitous cytokine that plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of self-tolerance and prevention of immunopathologies. Under steady-state conditions, TGF-beta keeps naive T cells in a resting state and inhibits Th1 and Th2 cell differentiation. Because rapid generation of Th1 and Th2 effector cells is needed in response to pathogen invasion, how do naive T cells escape from the quiescent state maintained by TGF-beta? We hypothesized that stimulation by strong TCR agonists might interfere with TGF-beta signaling. Using both primary mouse CD4(+) T cells and human Jurkat cells, we observed that strong TCR agonists swiftly suppress TGF-beta signaling. TCR engagement leads to a rapid increase in SMAD7 levels and decreased SMAD3 phosphorylation. We present evidence that TCR signaling hinders SMAD3 activation by inducing recruitment of TGF-betaRs in lipid rafts together with inhibitory SMAD7. This effect is dependent on protein kinase C, a downstream TCR signaling intermediary, as revealed by both pharmacological inhibition and expression of dominant-negative and constitutively active protein kinase C mutants. This work broadens our understanding of the cross-talk occurring between the TCR and TGF-beta signaling pathways and reveals that strong TCR agonists can release CD4 T cells from constitutive TGF-beta signaling. We propose that this process may be of vital importance upon confrontation with microbial pathogens.

J. Immunol. 2010;185(3):1568-76.

Pubmed ID: 20592275

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