Despite decades of research, mechanisms controlling T cell activation remain only partially understood, which hampers T cell-based immune cancer therapies. Here, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR screen to search for genes that regulate T cell activation. Our screen confirmed many of the known regulators in proximal T cell receptor signaling and, importantly, also uncovered a previously uncharacterized regulator, FAM49B (family with sequence similarity 49 member B). FAM49B deficiency led to hyperactivation of Jurkat T cells following T cell receptor stimulation, as indicated by enhancement of CD69 induction, PAK phosphorylation, and actin assembly. FAM49B directly interacted with the active form of the small GTPase Rac, and genetic disruption of the FAM49B-Rac interaction compromised FAM49B function. Thus, FAM49B inhibits T cell activation by repressing Rac activity and modulating cytoskeleton reorganization.
Keywords: FAM49B; Rac1; TCR signaling; actin cytoskeleton; genome-wide CRISPR screen.