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Although several cancer immunotherapy strategies are based on the use of analog peptides and on the modulation of the TCR affinity of adoptively transferred T cells, it remains unclear whether tumor-specific T cell activation by strong and weak TCR stimuli evoke different Ca(2+) signatures from the Ca(2+) intracellular stores and whether the amplitude of Ca(2+) release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) can be further modulated by coreceptor binding to peptide/MHC. In this study, we combined functional, structural, and kinetic measurements to correlate the intensity of Ca(2+) signals triggered by the stimulation of the 1G4 T cell clone specific to the tumor epitope NY-ESO-1(157-165). Two analogs of the NY-ESO-1(157-165) peptide, having similar affinity to HLA-A2 molecules, but a 6-fold difference in binding affinity for the 1G4 TCR, resulted in different Ca(2+) signals and T cell activation. 1G4 stimulation by the stronger stimulus emptied the ER of stored Ca(2+), even in the absence of CD8 binding, resulting in sustained Ca(2+) influx. In contrast, the weaker stimulus induced only partial emptying of stored Ca(2+), resulting in significantly diminished and oscillatory Ca(2+) signals, which were enhanced by CD8 binding. Our data define the range of TCR/peptide MHC affinities required to induce depletion of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores and provide insights into the ability of T cells to tailor the use of the CD8 coreceptor to enhance Ca(2+) release from the ER. This, in turn, modulates Ca(2+) influx from the extracellular environment, ultimately controlling T cell activation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





1829 - 1839


Calcium, Clone Cells, Crystallography, X-Ray, Cytoplasmic Granules, Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Humans, Lymphocyte Activation, Neoplasm Proteins, Peptide Fragments, Protein Binding, Protein Isoforms, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, T-Lymphocyte Subsets