How does T cell receptor clustering impact on signal transduction?

Jesse Goyette, Daniel J. Nieves, Yuanqing Ma, Katharina Gaus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The essential function of the T cell receptor (TCR) is to translate the engagement of peptides on the major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) into appropriate intracellular signals through the associated cluster of differentiation 3 (CD3) complex. The spatial organization of the TCR–CD3 complex in the membrane is thought to be a key regulatory element of signal transduction, raising the question of how receptor clustering impacts on TCR triggering. How signal transduction at the TCR–CD3 complex encodes the quality and quantity of pMHC molecules is not fully understood. This question can be approached by reconstituting T cell signaling in model and cell membranes and addressed by single-molecule imaging of endogenous proteins in T cells. We highlight such methods and further discuss how TCR clustering could affect pMHC rebinding rates, the local balance between kinase and phosphatase activity and/or the lipid environment to regulate the signal efficiency of the TCR–CD3 complex. We also examine whether clustering could affect the conformation of cytoplasmic CD3 tails through a biophysical mechanism. Taken together, we highlight how the spatial organization of the TCR–CD3 complex – addressed by reconstitution approaches – has emerged as a key regulatory element in signal transduction of this archetypal immune receptor.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjcs226423
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2019


  • Receptor clustering
  • Signal transduction
  • T cell receptor
  • T cell signaling
  • TCR
  • TCR nanoclusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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