Fever is an evolutionarily conserved response that confers survival benefits during infection. However, the underlying mechanism remains obscure. Here, we report that fever promoted T lymphocyte trafficking through heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90)-induced α4 integrin activation and signaling in T cells. By inducing selective binding of Hsp90 to α4 integrins, but not β2 integrins, fever increased α4-integrin-mediated T cell adhesion and transmigration. Mechanistically, Hsp90 bound to the α4 tail and activated α4 integrins via inside-out signaling. Moreover, the N and C termini of one Hsp90 molecule simultaneously bound to two α4 tails, leading to dimerization and clustering of α4 integrins on the cell membrane and subsequent activation of the FAK-RhoA pathway. Abolishment of Hsp90-α4 interaction inhibited fever-induced T cell trafficking to draining lymph nodes and impaired the clearance of bacterial infection. Our findings identify the Hsp90-α4-integrin axis as a thermal sensory pathway that promotes T lymphocyte trafficking and enhances immune surveillance during infection.
Keywords: Hsp90; fever; lymphocyte trafficking; thermal stress; α4 integrins.
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