Interaction of T cells with APCs induces dramatic remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton at the immune synapse. This process is absolutely required for T cell activation, and severe immunodeficiency or autoimmune disease result from mutations in actin regulatory molecules like WASP and HS1. This study will test the central hypothesis that HS1, WIP, and WASP function in a coordinate fashion to orchestrate actin dynamics at the immune synapse, such that each component plays a distinct role in regulating actin architecture, while modulating the function of the others.
In Aim 1, we will ask to what extent these proteins interact directly, and seek to place HS1 in the context of the actin regulatory complex involving WIP, WASP, Itk and Vav. We will ask how these actin regulatory molecules affect one another's stability, targeting and conformation, and analyze movements of fluorescently tagged proteins in living T cells.
In Aim 2, we will conduct functional analyses during T cell activation using cells lacking individual actin regulatory proteins. Video analysis of actin dynamics and EM of cortical actin will be performed to test the idea that WASP and WIP collaborate to drive actin polymerization, while HS1 acts to stabilize actin filaments. In addition, actin- dependent T cell responses ranging from immune synapse formation to proliferation and cytokine production will be assessed.
In Aim 3, we will conduct structure-function analysis of HS1 by expressing mutants in HS1-deficient T cells and assaying actin responses and other aspects-of T cell activation. In addition to testing domains and protein-protein interaction motifs, we will test the function of a lupus-linked insertion polymorphism. Finally, we will analyze HS1 tyrosine phosphorylation, and test the physiological effects of non-phosphorylatable point mutants. Taken together, these studies will advance the field toward a molecular understanding of how actin dynamics at the immune synapse are controlled, and how this process contributes to T cell activation.
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