Fluctuations in TCR and pMHC interactions regulate T cell activation
Egan JR., Abu-Shah E., Dushek O., Elliott T., MacArthur BD.
ABSTRACTAdaptive immune responses depend on interactions between T cell receptors (TCRs) and peptide major-histocompatibility complex (pMHC) ligands located on the surface of T cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs) respectively. As TCRs and pMHCs are often only present at low copy-numbers their interactions are inherently stochastic, yet the role of stochastic fluctuations on T cell function is unclear. Here we introduce a minimal stochastic model of T cell activation that accounts for serial TCR-pMHC engagement, reversible TCR conformational change and TCR aggregation. Analysis of this model indicates that it is not the strength of binding between the T cell and the APC cell per se that elicits an immune response, but rather the information imparted to the T cell from the encounter, as assessed by the entropy rate of the TCR-pMHC binding dynamics. This view provides an information-theoretic interpretation of T cell activation that explains a range of experimental observations. Based on this analysis we propose that effective T cell therapeutics may be enhanced by optimizing the inherent stochasticity of TCR-pMHC binding dynamics.