PKC-θ plays a central role in TCR-induced IL-2 production and T-cell proliferation. The aim of the present study was to analyse how PKC-θ is regulated in human T cells during T-cell activation and differentiation. We show that PKC-θ is found in a high-molecular disulfide-linked complex in naïve T cells, and that PKC-θ most likely is inactive in this form. In parallel with the accumulation of the major redox regulators, glutathione and thioredoxin, PKC-θ is gradually reduced to the 82 kDa active form during T-cell activation. We demonstrate that PKC-θ is recruited to the plasma membrane in the disulfide-linked form in naïve T cells, and that activation of PKC-θ is redox dependent and requires de novo synthesis of glutathione. This is the first study that shows that the activity of PKC-θ is regulated by the intracellular redox state, and that PKC-θ is recruited to the plasma membrane in an inactive form in naïve T cells. Our observations underscore the existence of major differences in TCR signaling in naïve versus primed T cells.
© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.