Activation of many cell surface receptors triggers the reorganization of downstream signaling molecules into micron- or submicron-sized clusters. However, the functional consequences of such clustering have been unclear. We biochemically reconstituted a 12-component signaling pathway on model membranes, beginning with T cell receptor (TCR) activation and ending with actin assembly. When TCR phosphorylation was triggered, downstream signaling proteins spontaneously separated into liquid-like clusters that promoted signaling outputs both in vitro and in human Jurkat T cells. Reconstituted clusters were enriched in kinases but excluded phosphatases and enhanced actin filament assembly by recruiting and organizing actin regulators. These results demonstrate that protein phase separation can create a distinct physical and biochemical compartment that facilitates signaling.

Note: This abstract was not presented at the conference.

Citation Format: Xiaolei Su, Jonathon Ditlev, Enfu Hui, Michael Rosen, Ronald Vale. Mechanism of T cell activation by phase separation [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Second CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival; 2016 Sept 25-28; New York, NY. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2016;4(11 Suppl):Abstract nr B101.