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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ratiometric imaging of the T-cell actin cytoskeleton reveals the nature of receptor-induced cytoskeletal enrichment.


The T-cell actin cytoskeleton mediates adaptive immune system responses to peptide antigens by physically directing the motion and clustering of T-cell receptors (TCRs) on the cell surface. When TCR movement is impeded by externally applied physical barriers, the actin network exhibits transient enrichment near the trapped receptors. The coordinated nature of the actin density fluctuations suggests that they are composed of filamentous actin, but it has not been possible to eliminate de novo polymerization at TCR-associated actin polymerizing factors as an alternative cause. Here, we use a dual-probe cytoskeleton labeling strategy to distinguish between stable and polymerizing pools of actin. Our results suggest that TCR-associated actin consists of a relatively high proportion of the stable cytoskeletal fraction and extends away from the cell membrane into the cell. This implies that actin enrichment at mechanically trapped TCRs results from three-dimensional bunching of the existing filamentous actin network.

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