Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A central process in immunity is the activation of T cells through interaction of T cell receptors (TCRs) with agonistic peptide-major histocompatibility complexes (pMHC) on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APCs). TCR-pMHC binding triggers the formation of an extensive contact between the two cells termed the immunological synapse, which acts as a platform for integration of multiple signals determining cellular outcomes, including those from multiple co-stimulatory/inhibitory receptors. Contributors to this include a number of chemokine receptors, notably CXC-chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), and other members of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Although best characterized as mediators of ligand-dependent chemotaxis, some chemokine receptors are also recruited to the synapse and contribute to signaling in the absence of ligation. How these and other GPCRs integrate within the dynamic structure of the synapse is unknown, as is how their normally migratory Gαi-coupled signaling is terminated upon recruitment. Here, we report the spatiotemporal organization of several GPCRs, focusing on CXCR4, and the G protein Gαi2 within the synapse of primary human CD4+ T cells on supported lipid bilayers, using standard- and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. We find that CXCR4 undergoes orchestrated phases of reorganization, culminating in recruitment to the TCR-enriched center. This appears to be dependent on CXCR4 ubiquitination, and does not involve stable interactions with TCR microclusters, as viewed at the nanoscale. Disruption of this process by mutation impairs CXCR4 contributions to cellular activation. Gαi2 undergoes active exclusion from the synapse, partitioning from centrally-accumulated CXCR4. Using a CRISPR-Cas9 knockout screen, we identify several diverse GPCRs with contributions to T cell activation, most significantly the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor S1PR1, and the oxysterol receptor GPR183. These, and other GPCRs, undergo organization similar to CXCR4; including initial exclusion, centripetal transport, and lack of receptor-TCR interactions. These constitute the first observations of GPCR dynamics within the synapse, and give insights into how these receptors may contribute to T cell activation. The observation of broad GPCR contributions to T cell activation also opens the possibility that modulating GPCR expression in response to cell status or environment may directly regulate responsiveness to pMHC.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Cell Dev Biol

Publication Date





fluorescence, lymphocyte, microscopy, receptor, screening, signaling, synapse, tracking