The actin cytoskeleton provides a dynamic framework to support membrane organization and cellular signaling events. The importance of actin in T cell function has long been recognized to go well beyond the maintenance of cell morphology and transport of proteins. Over the past several years, our understanding of actin in T cell activation has expanded tremendously, in part owing to the development of methods and techniques to probe the complex interplay between actin and T cell signaling. On the one hand, biochemical methods have led to the identification of many key cytoskeleton regulators and new signaling pathways, whereas, on the other, the combination of advanced imaging techniques and physical characterization tools has allowed the spatiotemporal investigation of actin in T cell signaling. All those studies have made a profound impact on our understanding of the actin cytoskeleton in T cell activation. Many previous reviews have focused on the biochemical aspects of the actin cytoskeleton. However, here we will summarize recent studies from a biophysical perspective to explain the mechanistic role of actin in modulating T cell activation. We will discuss how actin modulates T cell activation on multiple time and length scales. Specifically, we will reveal the distinct roles of the actin filaments in facilitating TCR triggering, orchestrating ‘signalosome’ assembly and transport, and establishing protein spatial organization in the immunological synapse.
Supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the US Department of Energy (contract number DE-AC02-05CH11231 to Y.Y., A.A.S and J.T.G.). A.A.S was partially supported by the Office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Idea Award BC102681 under US Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity no. W81XWH-11-1-0256.
- © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd