T cell activation requires sustained signaling at the immune synapse, a specialized interface with the antigen-presenting cell (APC) that assembles following T cell antigen receptor (TCR) engagement by major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-bound peptide. Central to sustained signaling is the continuous recruitment of TCRs to the immune synapse. These TCRs are partly mobilized from an endosomal pool by polarized recycling. We have identified IFT20, a component of the intraflagellar transport (IFT) system that controls ciliogenesis, as a central regulator of TCR recycling to the immune synapse. Here, we have investigated the interplay of IFT20 with the Rab GTPase network that controls recycling. We found that IFT20 forms a complex with Rab5 and the TCR on early endosomes. IFT20 knockdown (IFT20KD) resulted in a block in the recycling pathway, leading to a build-up of recycling TCRs in Rab5(+) endosomes. Recycling of the transferrin receptor (TfR), but not of CXCR4, was disrupted by IFT20 deficiency. The IFT components IFT52 and IFT57 were found to act together with IFT20 to regulate TCR and TfR recycling. The results provide novel insights into the mechanisms that control TCR recycling and immune synapse assembly, and underscore the trafficking-related function of the IFT system beyond ciliogenesis.
Keywords: Immune synapse; Intraflagellar transport; Rab GTPases; Receptor recycling; Receptor sorting.