American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons

The mitochondrial protein TCAIM regulates activation of T cells and thereby promotes tolerance induction of allogeneic transplants.

PMID 25363083


Primary T cell activation and effector cell differentiation is required for rejection of allogeneic grafts in naïve recipients. It has become evident, that mitochondria play an important role for T cell activation. Expression of several mitochondrial proteins such as TCAIM (T cell activation inhibitor, mitochondrial) is down-regulated upon T cell receptor triggering. Here we report that TCAIM inhibited spontaneous development of memory and effector T cells. CD4(+) T cells from Tcaim knock-in (KI) mice showed reduced activation, cytokine secretion and proliferation in vitro. Tcaim KI T cells tolerated allogeneic skin grafts upon transfer into Rag-1 KO mice. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells from these mice did not infiltrate skin grafts and kept a naïve or central memory phenotype, respectively. They were unable to acquire effector phenotype and functions. TCAIM altered T cell activation-induced mitochondrial distribution and reduced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) production. Thus, TCAIM controls T cell activation and promotes tolerance induction probably by regulating TCR-mediated mitochondrial distribution and mROS production.