Relevance of Nck–CD3ε Interaction for T Cell Activation In Vivo

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On TCR ligation, the adaptor Nck is recruited through its src homology 3.1 domain to a proline-rich sequence (PRS) in CD3ε. We have studied the relevance of this interaction for T cell activation in vitro and in vivo by targeting the interaction sites in both partners. The first approach consisted of studying a knockin (KI) mouse line (KI-PRS) bearing a conservative mutation in the PRS that makes the TCR incompetent to recruit Nck. This deficiency prevents T cell activation by Ag in vitro and inhibited very early TCR signaling events including the tyrosine phosphorylation of CD3ζ. Most important, KI-PRS mice are partly protected against the development of neurological symptoms in an experimental autoimmune encephalitis model, and show a deficient antitumoral response after vaccination. The second approach consisted of using a high-affinity peptide that specifically binds the src homology 3.1 domain and prevents the interaction of Nck with CD3ε. This peptide inhibits T cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that Nck recruitment to the TCR is fundamental to mount an efficient T cell response in vivo, and that the Nck–CD3ε interaction may represent a target for pharmacological modulation of the immune response.