Review ARTICLE

Front. Immunol., 31 July 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2012.00235

Microtubule-organizing center polarity and the immunological synapse: protein kinase C and beyond

  • Immunology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

Cytoskeletal polarization is crucial for many aspects of immune function, ranging from neutrophil migration to the sampling of gut flora by intestinal dendritic cells. It also plays a key role during lymphocyte cell–cell interactions, the most conspicuous of which is perhaps the immunological synapse (IS) formed between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell (APC). IS formation is associated with the reorientation of the T cell’s microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) to a position just beneath the cell–cell interface. This cytoskeletal remodeling event aligns secretory organelles inside the T cell with the IS, enabling the directional release of cytokines and cytolytic factors toward the APC. MTOC polarization is therefore crucial for maintaining the specificity of a T cell’s secretory and cytotoxic responses. It has been known for some time that T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation activates the MTOC polarization response. It has been difficult, however, to identify the machinery that couples early TCR signaling to cytoskeletal remodeling. Over the past few years, considerable progress has been made in this area. This review will present an overview of recent advances, touching on both the mechanisms that drive MTOC polarization and the effector responses that require it. Particular attention will be paid to both novel and atypical members of the protein kinase C family, which are now known to play important roles in both the establishment and the maintenance of the polarized state.

Keywords: cell polarity, cytoskeleton, lymphocyte, protein kinase C, signal transduction, T cell

Citation: Huse M (2012) Microtubule-organizing center polarity and the immunological synapse: protein kinase C and beyond. Front. Immun. 3:235. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00235

Received: 03 April 2012; Paper pending published: 08 May 2012;
Accepted: 15 July 2012; Published online: 31 July 2012.

Edited by:

Amnon Altman, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, USA

Reviewed by:

Karsten Sauer, The Scripps Research Institute, USA
Salvatore Valitutti, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, France

Copyright: © 2012 Huse. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Morgan Huse, Immunology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA. e-mail: husem@mskcc.org