The Journal of biological chemistry

Guanine nucleotide exchange factor αPIX leads to activation of the Rac 1 GTPase/glycogen phosphorylase pathway in interleukin (IL)-2-stimulated T cells.

PMID 25694429


Recently, we have reported that the active form of Rac 1 GTPase binds to the glycogen phosphorylase muscle isoform (PYGM) and modulates its enzymatic activity leading to T cell proliferation. In the lymphoid system, Rac 1 and in general other small GTPases of the Rho family participate in the signaling cascades that are activated after engagement of the T cell antigen receptor. However, little is known about the IL-2-dependent Rac 1 activator molecules. For the first time, a signaling pathway leading to the activation of Rac 1/PYGM in response to IL-2-stimulated T cell proliferation is described. More specifically, αPIX, a known guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPases of the Rho family, preferentially Rac 1, mediates PYGM activation in Kit 225 T cells stimulated with IL-2. Using directed mutagenesis, phosphorylation of αPIX Rho-GEF serines 225 and 488 is required for activation of the Rac 1/PYGM pathway. IL-2-stimulated serine phosphorylation was corroborated in Kit 225 T cells cultures. A parallel pharmacological and genetic approach identified PKCθ as the serine/threonine kinase responsible for αPIX serine phosphorylation. The phosphorylated state of αPIX was required to activate first Rac 1 and subsequently PYGM. These results demonstrate that the IL-2 receptor activation, among other early events, leads to activation of PKCθ. To activate Rac 1 and consequently PYGM, PKCθ phosphorylates αPIX in T cells. The biological significance of this PKCθ/αPIX/Rac 1 GTPase/PYGM signaling pathway seems to be the control of different cellular responses such as migration and proliferation.