MHC class II-expressing thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells can mediate CD4 T-cell selection resulting in functionally distinct thymocyte-selected CD4 (T-CD4) and epithelial-selected CD4 (E-CD4) T cells, respectively. However, little is known about how T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling influences the development of these two CD4 T-cell subsets. To study TCR signaling for T-CD4 T-cell development, we used a GFP reporter system of Nur77 in which GFP intensity directly correlates with TCR signaling strength. T-CD4 T cells expressed higher levels of GFP than E-CD4 T cells, suggesting that T-CD4 T cells received stronger TCR signaling than E-CD4 T cells during selection. Elimination of Ras GTPase-activating protein enhanced E-CD4 but decreased T-CD4 T-cell selection efficiency, suggesting a shift to negative selection. Conversely, the absence of IL-2-inducible T-cell kinase that causes poor E-CD4 T-cell selection due to insufficient TCR signaling improved T-CD4 T-cell generation, consistent with rescue from negative selection. Strong TCR signaling during T-CD4 T-cell development correlates with the expression of the transcription factor promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger protein. However, although modulation of the signaling strength affected the efficiency of T-CD4 T-cell development during positive and negative selection, the signaling strength is not as important for the effector function of T-CD4 T cells. These findings indicate that innate T-CD4 T cells, together with invariant natural killer T cells and γδ T cells, receive strong TCR signals during their development and that signaling requirements for the development and the effector functions are distinct.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Oct 2 2012|