Research ArticleImmunology

The purinergic receptor P2Y11 choreographs the polarization, mitochondrial metabolism, and migration of T lymphocytes

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Science Signaling  29 Sep 2020:
Vol. 13, Issue 651, eaba3300
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aba3300

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Polarized by purinergic signaling

Migration enables T cells to carry out many of their functions. Ledderose et al. found that T cell migration requires the redistribution of the purinergic receptor P2Y11 to the rear of cells. In this subcellular location, P2Y11 receptors suppress mitochondrial metabolism and promote uropod retraction. P2Y11 receptor redistribution was also found necessary to restrict signaling mediated by P2X4 purinergic receptors to the front of migrating cells to stimulate pseudopod formation and mitochondrial metabolism that sustain migration. These results indicate that P2Y11 signaling at the rear of cells confers the polarization in morphology, mitochondrial metabolism, and signaling necessary to ensure efficient T cell migration.


T cells must migrate to encounter antigen-presenting cells and perform their roles in host defense. Here, we found that autocrine stimulation of the purinergic receptor P2Y11 regulates the migration of human CD4 T cells. P2Y11 receptors redistributed from the front to the back of polarized cells where they triggered intracellular cAMP/PKA signals that attenuated mitochondrial metabolism at the back. The absence of P2Y11 receptors at the front of cells resulted in hotspots of mitochondrial metabolism and localized ATP production that stimulated P2X4 receptors, Ca2+ influx, and pseudopod protrusion at the front. This regulatory function of P2Y11 receptors depended on their subcellular redistribution and autocrine stimulation by cellular ATP release and was perturbed by indiscriminate global stimulation. We conclude that excessive extracellular ATP—such as in response to inflammation, sepsis, and cancer—disrupts this autocrine feedback mechanism, which results in defective T cell migration, impaired T cell function, and loss of host immune defense.

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