During T cell activation, the engagement of a T cell with an antigen-presenting cell (APC) results in rapid cytoskeletal rearrangements and a dramatic increase of intracellular calcium (Ca(2+)) concentration, downstream to T cell antigen receptor (TCR) ligation. These events facilitate the organization of an immunological synapse (IS), which supports the redistribution of receptors, signaling molecules and organelles towards the T cell-APC interface to induce downstream signaling events, ultimately supporting T cell effector functions. Thus, Ca(2+) signaling and cytoskeleton rearrangements are essential for T cell activation and T cell-dependent immune response. Rapid release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores, e.g. the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), triggers the opening of Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels, residing in the plasma membrane. These channels facilitate a sustained influx of extracellular Ca(2+) across the plasma membrane in a process termed store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE). Because CRAC channels are themselves inhibited by Ca(2+) ions, additional factors are suggested to enable the sustained Ca(2+) influx required for T cell function. Among these factors, we focus here on the contribution of the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton. The TCR-mediated increase in intracellular Ca(2+) evokes a rapid cytoskeleton-dependent polarization, which involves actin cytoskeleton rearrangements and microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) reorientation. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of Ca(2+) flux and cytoskeletal rearrangements, and further describe the way by which the cytoskeletal networks feedback to Ca(2+) signaling by controlling the spatial and temporal distribution of Ca(2+) sources and sinks, modulating TCR-dependent Ca(2+) signals, which are required for an appropriate T cell response. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Reciprocal influences between cell cytoskeleton and membrane channels, receptors and transporters. Guest Editor: Jean Claude Hervé.
Keywords: Actin polymerization; Calcium; Cytoskeleton; Lymphocyte; Signaling; TCR.