European journal of immunology

The cellular environment regulates in situ kinetics of T-cell receptor interaction with peptide major histocompatibility complex.

PMID 25944482


T cells recognize antigens at the two-dimensional (2D) interface with antigen-presenting cells (APCs), which trigger T-cell effector functions. T-cell functional outcomes correlate with 2D kinetics of membrane-embedded T-cell receptors (TCRs) binding to surface-tethered peptide-major histocompatibility complex molecules (pMHCs). However, most studies have measured TCR-pMHC kinetics for recombinant TCRs in 3D by surface plasmon resonance, which differs drastically from 2D measurements. Here, we compared pMHC dissociation from native TCR on the T-cell surface to recombinant TCR immobilized on glass surface or in solution. Force on TCR-pMHC bonds regulated their lifetimes differently for native than recombinant TCRs. Perturbing the cellular environment suppressed 2D on-rates but had no effect on 2D off-rate regardless of whether force was applied. In contrast, for the TCR interacting with its monoclonal antibody, the 2D on-rate was insensitive to cellular perturbations and the force-dependent off-rates were indistinguishable for native and recombinant TCRs. These data present novel features of TCR-pMHC kinetics that are regulated by the cellular environment, underscoring the limitations of 3D kinetics in predicting T-cell functions and calling for further elucidation of the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate 2D kinetics in physiological settings.