Virtually every cell in the body is exposed to mechanical forces that are transduced through its cytoskeleton and influence its activity. Recent studies using T cells, the master organizing cells of the adaptive immune system, have shown that mechanical forces acting upon the T cell receptor (TCR) and through the cytoskeleton can trigger cellular responses. It is unclear how the cytoskeleton plays this role, or how T cells interpret the interplay of forces and signals of receptor ligation. We have discovered that T cells are more sensitive to antigen (i.e., have a lower threshold of activation) when their actin cytoskeleton is untethered and mechanically soft. Furthermore, we have discovered that in autoimmune diabetes, mechanical forces from inflamed extracellular matrix (ECM) can provoke T cell autoimmunity. The gaps in our knowledge are due to a lack of tools that can measure and deliver nanoscale forces to live cells. That T cells encode their threshold of activation in cytoskeletal structures provides impetus to study how cells communicate in a language that combines mechanical forces with receptor signals. Here, we propose to 1) Determine the mechanosensitivity of the T cell receptor at the molecular level, using an advanced atomic force microscope (AFM) to convey mechanical forces and antigens to single-molecule TCRs; 2) Identify the cytoskeletal networks required for mechanosensing, using a new generation of AFM cantilevers that can measure cytoskeletal changes in live cells; and 3) Determine influence of mechanical forces due to inflammatory ECM, using a mouse model of autoimmune diabetes and a 3D biomimetic matrix to emulate the inflamed ECM and its mechanical effects on T cell activation. Our lab, working with our collaborators at Stanford, has pioneered breakthroughs in biological atomic force microscopy (AFM) and nanofabrication that make these innovative studies possible by allowing us to precisely ligate receptors and exert minute forces while measuring mechanical responses in live T cells, all while imaging cells and their cytoskeletal changes using live confocal microscopy. These studies will help us decipher the language of mechanical forces in cell signaling, and will have a major impact on our understanding of the mechanical effects of inflammatory ECM in autoimmune diseases. We expect our findings will spur novel immune therapeutics. Our new methods of using AFM in cell biology have the potential to revolutionize studies of mechanobiology and receptor signaling pathways implicated in many diseases.
Mechanical forces influence T cells by altering their activation threshold and effector functions. How forces alter T cell receptor signals and their cytoskeletal protein networks is not well understood. The proposed studies will provide new insights into mechanisms of T cell regulation, including understanding how tissue inflammation provokes autoimmunity. These studies will be applicable to other cell types, particularly other cells of the immune system. We expect to contribute important new insights into the importance of the cytoskeleton as a regulator of receptor signaling, and into developing innovative strategies to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases.
|Nagy, Nadine; de la Zerda, Adi; Kaber, Gernot et al. (2018) Hyaluronan content governs tissue stiffness in pancreatic islet inflammation. J Biol Chem 293:567-578|
|Majedi, Fatemeh S; Hasani-Sadrabadi, Mohammad Mahdi; Kidani, Yoko et al. (2018) Cytokine Secreting Microparticles Engineer the Fate and the Effector Functions of T-Cells. Adv Mater 30:|
|Thauland, Timothy J; Hu, Kenneth H; Bruce, Marc A et al. (2017) Cytoskeletal adaptivity regulates T cell receptor signaling. Sci Signal 10:|
|Nyberg, Kendra D; Hu, Kenneth H; Kleinman, Sara H et al. (2017) Quantitative Deformability Cytometry: Rapid, Calibrated Measurements of Cell Mechanical Properties. Biophys J 113:1574-1584|
|Choi, Jeff; Fernandez, Rosemary; Maecker, Holden T et al. (2017) Systems approach to uncover signaling networks in primary immunodeficiency diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 140:881-884.e8|
|Han, Li-Hsin; Conrad, Bogdan; Chung, Michael T et al. (2016) Winner of the Young Investigator Award of the Society for Biomaterials at the 10th World Biomaterials Congress, May 17-22, 2016, Montreal QC, Canada: Microribbon-based hydrogels accelerate stem cell-based bone regeneration in a mouse critical-size cranial J Biomed Mater Res A 104:1321-31|
|Roxbury, Daniel; Jena, Prakrit V; Shamay, Yosi et al. (2016) Cell Membrane Proteins Modulate the Carbon Nanotube Optical Bandgap via Surface Charge Accumulation. ACS Nano 10:499-506|
|Kuipers, Hedwich F; Rieck, Mary; Gurevich, Irina et al. (2016) Hyaluronan synthesis is necessary for autoreactive T-cell trafficking, activation, and Th1 polarization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:1339-44|
|Nam, Sungmin; Hu, Kenneth H; Butte, Manish J et al. (2016) Strain-enhanced stress relaxation impacts nonlinear elasticity in collagen gels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:5492-7|
|Butte, Manish J; Park, K T; Lewis, David B (2016) Treatment of CGD-associated Colitis with the IL-23 Blocker Ustekinumab. J Clin Immunol 36:619-20|
Showing the most recent 10 out of 13 publications