Gimferrer et al., 2004. J Immunol 173(4): 2262-2270.
BACKGROUND: CD6 is a cell surface receptor expressed on immature thymocytes and mature T and B1a lymphocytes. The ultimate function of CD6 has not been deciphered yet, but much evidence supports a role for CD6 in T cell activation and differentiation. In this study, we show that a fraction of CD6 molecules physically associates with the TCR/CD3 complex by coimmunoprecipitation, cocapping, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments. Image analysis of Ag-specific T-APC conjugates demonstrated that CD6 and its ligand, activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (CD166), colocalize with TCR/CD3 at the center of the immunological synapse, the so-called central supramolecular activation cluster. The addition of a soluble rCD6 form significantly reduced the number of mature Ag-specific T-APC conjugates, indicating that CD6 mediates early cell-cell interactions needed for immunological synapse maturation to proceed. This was in agreement with the dose-dependent inhibition of CD3-mediated T cell proliferation induced by soluble rCD6. Taken together, our data illustrate the important role played by the intra- and intercellular molecular interactions mediated by CD6 during T cell activation and proliferation processes.