Organization of plasma membrane functional rafts upon T cell activation

Eur J Immunol. 2001 Feb;31(2):345-9. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200102)31:2<345::aid-immu345>;2-l.


Raft microdomains have been shown to play a key role in T cell activation. We found that in human T lymphocytes the formation of functional rafts at the plasma membrane was induced by T cell priming. In resting T cells from peripheral blood Lck and the raft glycosphingolipid GM1 resided in intracellular membranes. T cell activation induced synthesis of GM1 and effector cells showed very high levels of this lipid, which became predominantly plasma membrane associated. TCR triggering also induced targeting of the cytosolic Lck to the plasma membrane. Thus, effector cells acquire an improved signaling machinery by increasing the amount of rafts at the plasma membrane. The fact that, when compared with naive T cells, memory T cells showed higher GM1 levels suggests that raft lipid synthesis may be developmentally regulated and tune T cell responsiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • G(M1) Ganglioside / analysis
  • G(M1) Ganglioside / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck) / metabolism
  • Membrane Microdomains / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • G(M1) Ganglioside
  • Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck)