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.

Understanding the component stoichiometry of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) triggering apparatus is essential for building realistic models of signal initiation. Recent studies suggesting that the TCR and other signaling-associated proteins are preclustered on resting T cells relied on measurements of the behavior of membrane proteins at interfaces with functionalized glass surfaces. Using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we show that, compared with the apical surface, the mobility of TCRs is significantly reduced at Jurkat T cell/glass interfaces, in a signaling-sensitive manner. Using two biophysical approaches that mitigate these effects, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer and two-color coincidence detection microscopy, we show that, within the uncertainty of the methods, the membrane components of the TCR triggering apparatus, i.e. the TCR complex, MHC molecules, CD4/Lck and CD45, are exclusively monovalent or monomeric in human T cell lines, implying that TCR triggering depends only on the kinetics of TCR/pMHC interactions. These analyses also showed that constraining proteins to two dimensions at the cell surface greatly enhances random interactions versus those between the membrane and the cytoplasm. Simulations of TCR-pMHC complex formation based on these findings suggest how unclustered TCR triggering-associated proteins might nevertheless be capable of generating complex signaling outputs via the differential recruitment of cytosolic effectors to the cell membrane.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





31993 - 32001


CD4 Antigens, Cell Membrane, Cytosol, HEK293 Cells, HLA Antigens, Humans, Jurkat Cells, Leukocyte Common Antigens, Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck), Models, Immunological, Receptors, Antigen, Signal Transduction, T-Lymphocytes