T cell activation is positively and negatively regulated by a pair of costimulatory receptors, CD28 and CTLA-4, respectively. Because these receptors share common ligands, CD80 and CD86, the expression and behavior of CTLA-4 is critical for T cell costimulation regulation. However, in vivo blocking of CD28-mediated costimulation by CTLA-4 and its mechanisms still remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate the dynamic behavior of CTLA-4 in its real-time competition with CD28 at the central-supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC), resulting in the dislocalization of protein kinase C-θ and CARMA1 scaffolding protein. CTLA-4 translocation to the T cell receptor microclusters and the cSMAC is tightly regulated by its ectodomain size, and its accumulation at the cSMAC is required for its inhibitory function. The CTLA-4-mediated suppression was demonstrated by the in vitro anergy induction in regulatory T cells constitutively expressing CTLA-4. These results show the dynamic mechanism of CTLA-4-mediated T cell suppression at the cSMAC.
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