The syntaxin 11 (STX11) gene is mutated in a proportion of patients with familial haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (FHL) and exocytosis of cytotoxic granules is impaired in STX11-deficient NK cells. However, the subcellular localization, regulation of expression and molecular function of STX11 in NK cells and other cytotoxic lymphocytes remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that STX11 expression is strictly controlled by several mechanisms in a cell-type-specific manner and that the enzymatic activity of the proteasome is required for STX11 expression in NK cells. In resting NKL cells, STX11 was localized in the cation-dependent mannose-6-phosphate receptor (CD-M6PR)-containing compartment, which was clearly distinct from cytotoxic granules or Rab27a-expressing vesicles. These subcellular structures appeared to fuse at the contact area with NK-sensitive target cells as demonstrated by partial colocalization of STX11 with perforin and Rab27a. Although STX11-deficent allo-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes efficiently lysed target cells and released cytotoxic granules, they exhibited a significantly lower extent of spontaneous association of perforin with Rab27a as compared with STX11-expressing T cells. Thus, our results suggest that STX11 promotes the fusion of Rab27a-expressing vesicles with cytotoxic granules and reveal an additional level of complexity in the spatial/temporal segregation of subcellular structures participating in the process of granule-mediated cytotoxicity.
© 2011 The Authors Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine © 2011 Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine/Blackwell Publishing Ltd.