CD4 interactions with class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules are essential for CD4 + T cell development, activation, and effector functions. While its association with p56 lck (Lck), a Src kinase, is important for these functions CD4 also has an Lck-independent role in TCR signaling that is incompletely understood. Here, we identify a conserved GGxxG motif in the CD4 transmembrane domain that is related to the previously described GxxxG motifs of other proteins and predicted to form a flat glycine patch in a transmembrane helix. In other proteins, these patches have been reported to mediate dimerization of transmembrane domains. Here we show that introducing bulky side-chains into this patch (GGxxG to GVxxL) impairs the Lck-independent role of CD4 in T cell activation upon TCR engagement of agonist and weak agonist stimulation. However, using Forster's Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), we saw no evidence that these mutations decreased CD4 dimerization either in the unliganded state or upon engagement of pMHC concomitantly with the TCR. This suggests that the CD4 transmembrane domain is either mediating interactions with an unidentified partner, or mediating some other function such as membrane domain localization that is important for its role in T cell activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)