Bacterial Superantigens Bypass Lck-Dependent T Cell Receptor Signaling by Activating a Gα11-Dependent, PLC-β-Mediated Pathway
The paradigm to explain antigen-dependent T cell receptor (TCR) signaling is based on the activation of the CD4 or CD8 coreceptor-associated kinase Lck. It is widely assumed that this paradigm is also applicable to signaling by bacterial superantigens. However, these bacterial toxins can activate human T cells lacking Lck, suggesting the existence of an additional pathway of TCR signaling. Here we showed that this alternative pathway operates in the absence of Lck-dependent tyrosine-phosphorylation events and was initiated by the TCR-dependent activation of raft-enriched heterotrimeric Galpha11 proteins. This event, in turn, activated a phospholipase C-beta and protein kinase C-mediated cascade that turned on the mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK-1 and ERK-2, triggered Ca(2+) influx, and translocated the transcription factors NF-AT and NF-kappaB to the nucleus, ultimately inducing the production of interleukin-2 in Lck-deficient T cells. The triggering of this alternative pathway by superantigens suggests that these toxins use a G protein-coupled receptor as a coreceptor on T cells.