Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) T cells exhibit several activation signaling anomalies including defective Ca(2+) response and increased NF-AT nuclear translocation. The duration of the Ca(2+) signal is critical in the activation of specific transcription factors and a sustained Ca(2+) response activates NF-AT. Yet, the distribution of Ca(2+) responses in SLE T cells is not known. Furthermore, the mechanisms responsible for Ca(2+) alterations are not fully understood. Kv1.3 channels control Ca(2+) homeostasis in T cells. We reported a defect in Kv1.3 trafficking to the immunological synapse (IS) of SLE T cells that might contribute to the Ca(2+) defect. The present study compares single T cell quantitative Ca(2+) responses upon formation of the IS in SLE, normal, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) donors. Also, we correlated cytosolic Ca(2+) concentrations and Kv1.3 trafficking in the IS by two-photon microscopy. We found that sustained [Ca(2+)](i) elevations constitute the predominant response to antigen stimulation of SLE T cells. This defect is selective to SLE as it was not observed in RA T cells. Further, we observed that in normal T cells termination of Ca(2+) influx is accompanied by Kv1.3 permanence in the IS, while Kv1.3 premature exit from the IS correlates with sustained Ca(2+) responses in SLE T cells. Thus, we propose that Kv1.3 trafficking abnormalities contribute to the altered distribution in Ca(2+) signaling in SLE T cells. Overall these defects may explain in part the T cell hyperactivity and dysfunction documented in SLE patients.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.