Engagement of multicomponent immunoreceptors such as the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) results in rapid activation of multiple protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) including Lck, Fyn, ZAP-70 and Itk. These PTKs then phosphorylate a number of enzymes and adapter molecules involved in a complex signaling cascade. Our studies have focused on a critical substrate of the PTKs, LAT (linker for activation of T cells), a 36-38kD integral membrane protein. LAT is a critical transmembrane adaptor protein. We have performed studies to characterize how LAT is phosphorylated and binds a number of critical signaling molecules, thus bringing these other adaptor molecules and enzymes to the plasma membrane in the vicinity of the activated TCR. Biochemical, biophysical and microscopic techniques are currently employed to study the characteristics of LAT-based signaling complexes.LAT-deficient mice were generated using standard gene targeting procedures. T cell development in these mice is blocked at an early stage within the thymus. Studies on LAT function in vivo have focused on the role of individual tyrosine residues of the molecule. Tyrosine to phenylalanine mutations have been introduced into the murine germline. These studies reveal that within the LAT molecule the four distal tyrosines are required for normal T cell development. Interestingly when one particular tyrosine at position 136 is replaced by phenylalanine, the enzyme phospholipase-C gamma is not activated, thymocyte development is partially blocked and a striking immunoproliferative disease ensues within a month of birth. These mice have been used to study how failure of phospholipase-C activation affects intrathymic development of T cells, and in particular, the processes of positive and negative selection.In addition to specific studies of the LAT molecule the laboratory has developed new methods of visualizing T cell activation using confocal microscopy. Many of the signaling molecules involved in the early TCR-coupled activation process have been tagged with fluorescent markers and expressed in T cells. The group has used these methods to observe the process of assembly of signaling molecules into signaling clusters at the site of T cell activation. We have determined, using imaging and biophysical methods, that cluster formation is highly cooperative. Studies of the down-regulation of signaling molecules and complexes are also in progress.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Division of Basic Sciences - NCI (NCI)
Intramural Research (Z01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Basic Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Sherman, Eilon; Barr, Valarie; Manley, Suliana et al. (2011) Functional nanoscale organization of signaling molecules downstream of the T cell antigen receptor. Immunity 35:705-20
Miyaji, Michihiko; Kortum, Robert L; Surana, Rishi et al. (2009) Genetic evidence for the role of Erk activation in a lymphoproliferative disease of mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:14502-7
Kortum, Robert L; Samelson, Lawrence E (2009) Priming the pump: adhesion enhances T cell antigen receptor-induced signaling. Immunity 30:3-5
Bunnell, Stephen C; Singer, Andrew L; Hong, David I et al. (2006) Persistence of cooperatively stabilized signaling clusters drives T-cell activation. Mol Cell Biol 26:7155-66
Barr, Valarie A; Balagopalan, Lakshmi; Barda-Saad, Mira et al. (2006) T-cell antigen receptor-induced signaling complexes: internalization via a cholesterol-dependent endocytic pathway. Traffic 7:1143-62
Braiman, Alex; Barda-Saad, Mira; Sommers, Connie L et al. (2006) Recruitment and activation of PLCgamma1 in T cells: a new insight into old domains. EMBO J 25:774-84
Houtman, Jon C D; Yamaguchi, Hiroshi; Barda-Saad, Mira et al. (2006) Oligomerization of signaling complexes by the multipoint binding of GRB2 to both LAT and SOS1. Nat Struct Mol Biol 13:798-805
Desiere, Frank; Deutsch, Eric W; Nesvizhskii, Alexey I et al. (2005) Integration with the human genome of peptide sequences obtained by high-throughput mass spectrometry. Genome Biol 6:R9
Sommers, Connie L; Lee, Jan; Steiner, Kevin L et al. (2005) Mutation of the phospholipase C-gamma1-binding site of LAT affects both positive and negative thymocyte selection. J Exp Med 201:1125-34
Houtman, Jon C D; Houghtling, Richard A; Barda-Saad, Mira et al. (2005) Early phosphorylation kinetics of proteins involved in proximal TCR-mediated signaling pathways. J Immunol 175:2449-58

Showing the most recent 10 out of 39 publications