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Surface Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte–associated Antigen 4 Partitions Within Lipid Rafts and Relocates to the Immunological Synapse under Conditions of Inhibition of T Cell Activation


T cell activation through the T cell receptor (TCR) involves partitioning of receptors into discrete membrane compartments known as lipid rafts, and the formation of an immunological synapse (IS) between the T cell and antigen-presenting cell (APC). Compartmentalization of negative regulators of T cell activation such as cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) is unknown. Recent crystal structures of B7-ligated CTLA-4 suggest that it may form lattices within the IS which could explain the mechanism of action of this molecule. Here, we show that after T cell stimulation, CTLA-4 coclusters with the TCR and the lipid raft ganglioside GM1 within the IS. Using subcellular fractionation, we show that most lipid raft-associated CTLA-4 is on the T cell surface. Such compartmentalization is dependent on the cytoplasmic tail of CTLA-4 and can be forced with a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchor in CTLA-4. The level of CTLA-4 within lipid rafts increases under conditions of APC-dependent TCR-CTLA-4 coligation and T cell inactivation. However, raft localization, although necessary for inhibition of T cell activation, is not sufficient for CTLA-4-mediated negative signaling. These data demonstrate that CTLA-4 within lipid rafts migrates to the IS where it can potentially form lattice structures and inhibit T cell activation.

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