Dendritic cells are targeted by regulatory T (T reg) cells, in a manner that operates as an indirect mode of T cell suppression. In this study, using a combination of single-cell force spectroscopy and structured illumination microscopy, we analyze individual T reg cell–DC interaction events and show that T reg cells exhibit strong intrinsic adhesiveness to DCs. This increased DC adhesion reduces the ability of contacted DCs to engage other antigen-specific cells. We show that this unusually strong LFA-1–dependent adhesiveness of T reg cells is caused in part by their low calpain activities, which normally release integrin–cytoskeleton linkage, and thereby reduce adhesion. Super resolution imaging reveals that such T reg cell adhesion causes sequestration of Fascin-1, an actin-bundling protein essential for immunological synapse formation, and skews Fascin-1–dependent actin polarization in DCs toward the T reg cell adhesion zone. Although it is reversible upon T reg cell disengagement, this sequestration of essential cytoskeletal components causes a lethargic state of DCs, leading to reduced T cell priming. Our results reveal a dynamic cytoskeletal component underlying T reg cell–mediated DC suppression in a contact-dependent manner.
- Submitted: 30 April 2016
- Revision received 27 July 2016
- Accepted: 12 December 2016
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