[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thymic selection shapes the T cell repertoire to ensure maximal antigenic coverage against pathogens while preventing autoimmunity. Recognition of self-peptides in the context of peptide-MHC complexes by the TCR is central to this process, which remains partially understood at the molecular level. In this study we provide genetic evidence that the Nck adapter proteins are essential for thymic selection. In vivo Nck deletion resulted in a reduction of the thymic cellularity, defective positive selection of low-avidity T cells, and impaired deletion of thymocytes engaged by low-potency stimuli. Nck-deficient thymocytes were characterized by reduced ERK activation, particularly pronounced in mature single positive thymocytes. Taken together, our findings identify a crucial role for the Nck adapters in enhancing TCR signal strength, thereby fine-tuning the threshold of thymocyte selection and shaping the preimmune T cell repertoire.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The size and sensitivity of the T-cell repertoire governs the effectiveness of immune responses against invading pathogens. Both are modulated by T-cell receptor (TCR) activity through molecular mechanisms, which remain unclear. Here, we provide genetic evidence that the SH2/SH3 domain containing proteins Nck lower the threshold of T-cell responsiveness. The hallmarks of Nck deletion were T-cell lymphopenia and hyporeactivity to TCR-mediated stimulation. In the absence of the Nck adaptors, peripheral T cells expressing a TCR with low avidity for self-antigens were strongly reduced, whereas an overall impairment of T-cell activation by weak antigenic stimulation was observed. Mechanistically, Nck deletion resulted in a significant decrease in calcium mobilization and ERK phosphorylation upon TCR engagement. Taken together, our findings unveil a crucial role for the Nck adaptors in shaping the T-cell repertoire to ensure maximal antigenic coverage and optimal T cell excitability.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences