Orai1 and STIM1 Move to the Immunological Synapse and Are Up-Regulated during T Cell Activation

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For efficient development of an immune response, T lymphocytes require long-lasting calcium influx through calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channels and the formation of a stable immunological synapse (IS) with the antigen-presenting cell (APC). Recent RNAi screens have identified Stim and Orai inDrosophila cells, and their corresponding mammalian homologs STIM1 and Orai1 in T cells, as essential for CRAC channel activation. Here, we show that STIM1 and Orai1 are recruited to the immunological synapse between primary human T cells and autologous dendritic cells. Both STIM1 and Orai1 accumulated in the area of contact between either resting or super-antigen (SEB)-pretreated T cells and SEB-pulsed dendritic cells, where they were colocalized with T cell receptor (TCR) and costimulatory molecules. In addition, imaging of intracellular calcium signaling in T cells loaded with EGTA revealed significantly higher Ca2+ concentration near the interface, indicating Ca2+ influx localized at the T cell/dendritic cell contact area. Expression of a dominant-negative Orai1 mutant blocked T cell Ca2+signaling but did not interfere with the initial accumulation of STIM1, Orai1, and CD3 in the contact zone. In activated T cell blasts, mRNA expression for endogenous STIM1 and all three human homologs of Orai was up-regulated, accompanied by a marked increase in Ca2+ influx through CRAC channels. These results imply a positive feedback loop in which an initial TCR signal favors up-regulation of STIM1 and Orai proteins that would augment Ca2+ signaling during subsequent antigen encounter.