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Protein discovered in UCC is critical for activation of the immune system

1 Jun 2016
Human T lymphocytes from the tumor line Jurkat undergoing adhesion, spreading and retraction on a glass surface covered with an antibody that activates the T lymphocyte by engaging the T-cell receptor complex. Cells were transfected with FIP3 tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP, green) and filamentous actin (red) and nuclei (blue) detected by phalloidin and DAPI staining, respectively. A sequence of spreading and retraction events is shown from top to bottom. Bouchet, J., del Río‐Iñiguez, I., Lasserre, R., Agüera‐Gonzalez, S., Cuche, C., Danckaert, A., McCaffrey, M.W., Di Bartolo, V. and Alcover, A. 2016. Rac1‐Rab11‐FIP3 regulatory hub coordinates vesicle traffic with actin remodeling and T‐cell activation. The EMBO journal 35, 1160-1174. DOI: 10.15252/embj.201593274.

A crucial event of immune system activation, in response to infections, is elicited by T-cells. The work has just been published online in the EMBO Journal and features as the cover image of the Journal’s current printed edition

T-cells are white blood cells which scan our bodies for pathogens. Once pathogens are detected, T-cells become activated. This activation involves the interaction of the T-cell with other cells of the immune system called Antigen Presenting Cells(APC’s). As their name suggests, APC’s present the pathogen(antigen) to the T-cell, resulting in complex changes in the shape and activity of the T-cell and triggering the immune response; antibody production, activation of phagocytic cells and direct cell killing.

A group in the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology have just contributed to a key finding of the molecular and cellular events which occur during T-cell activation. Some years ago, Professor Mary McCaffrey’s group were involved in the discovery and functional characterisation of a cellular protein called Rab11-FIP3. Now, through a collaboration with researchers in the Pasteur Institute, Paris, led by Professor Andres Alcover and Dr Jerome Bouchet, Rab11-FIP3 has been shown to be key to the process of T-cell activation when the cell encounters a pathogen.

Image from Bouchet, J., del Río‐Iñiguez, I., Lasserre, R., Agüera‐Gonzalez, S., Cuche, C., Danckaert, A., McCaffrey, M.W., Di Bartolo, V. and Alcover, A. 2016. Rac1‐Rab11‐FIP3 regulatory hub coordinates vesicle traffic with actin remodeling and T‐cell activation. The EMBO journal, doi: 10.15252/embj.201593274.The image shows the surface contact area (stained for actin) of a T-cell which either lacks the Rab11-FIP3 protein (right) or expresses the Rab11-FIP3 protein(left). 

The work has just been published online in the EMBO Journal and features as the cover image of the Journal’s current printed edition. 

School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

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University College Cork, Western Road, Cork.

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