Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

TCR Microclusters pre-exist and contain molecules necessary for TCR signal transduction.

PMID 24860189


TCR-dependent signaling events have been observed to occur in TCR microclusters. We found that some TCR microclusters are present in unstimulated murine T cells, indicating that the mechanisms leading to microcluster formation do not require ligand binding. These pre-existing microclusters increase in absolute number following engagement by low-potency ligands. This increase is accompanied by an increase in cell spreading, with the result that the density of TCR microclusters on the surface of the T cell is not a strong function of ligand potency. In characterizing their composition, we observed a constant number of TCRs in a microcluster, constitutive exclusion of the phosphatase CD45, and preassociation with the signaling adapters linker for activation of T cells and growth factor receptor-bound protein 2. The existence of TCR microclusters prior to ligand binding in a state that is conducive for the initiation of downstream signaling could explain, in part, the rapid kinetics with which TCR signal transduction occurs.