Protein transduction as a means of effective manipulation of Cdc42 activity in primary T cells

J Immunol Methods. 2007 Jan 30;319(1-2):64-78. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2006.10.017. Epub 2006 Dec 8.


The Rho family GTPase Cdc42 is a critical regulator of cellular polarization from yeast to man. An analysis of its function in T cell activation is therefore of interest. This analysis poses two substantial challenges, similar to the analysis of many other critical T cell signaling intermediates. First, Cdc42 is required for development and cell survival, necessitating short-term manipulation of its activity. Second, Cdc42 is likely involved in multiple signaling pathways, requiring approaches to distinguish multiple roles. To address these challenges, we first determined and quantified spatio-temporal patterns of Cdc42 activity using live cell video fluorescence microscopy. This generates hypotheses at which times and locations Cdc42 might play possibly distinct roles. Second and as the focus of this manuscript, we employed protein transduction to manipulate Cdc42 activity for the generation of causality. Protein transduction allows such manipulation to be short-term, quantitative, and with multiple reagents. Here, we characterize uptake, retention, and subcellular distribution of protein transduction reagents. We describe how a more quantitative single cell analysis of Cdc42 activity provides superior distinction between experimental conditions. And we show how we have used dose responses of the protein transduction reagents to minimize side effects while retaining efficacy. We suggest that our strategy is an important complement to more established techniques to study protein function in primary T cells, in particular in the investigation of signaling intermediates that are essential for cell survival and regulate multiple aspects of T cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Protein Transport / immunology
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Proteins
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein