Coordinated rearrangements of the actin-myosin cytoskeleton facilitate early and late events in T cell activation and signal transduction. As many important features of cell shape rearrangement involve small GTP-binding proteins, we examined the contribution of Rho kinase to the functions of mature T cells. Inhibitors of the Rho kinase pathway all had similar actions to inhibit the proliferation of primary lymphocyte cultures. Likewise, transfection of the human Jurkat T cell line with a dominant negative, kinase-defective mutant of Rho kinase diminished Jurkat cell proliferation. Furthermore, inhibition of Rho kinase substantially attenuated the program of cytokine gene expression that characterizes T cell activation, blocked actomyosin polymerization, and prevented aggregation of the TCR/CD3 complex colocalized with lipid rafts. These actions are relevant to immune responses in vivo, as treatment with a Rho kinase inhibitor considerably prolonged the survival of fully allogeneic heart transplants in mice and diminished intragraft expression of cytokine mRNAs. Thus, Rho GTPases acting through Rho kinase play a unique role in T cell activation during cellular immune responses by promoting structural rearrangements that are critical for T cell signaling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy