Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 2017 06 12199(2) 520-530 doi 10.4049/jimmunol.1601148
Parenchymal migration of naive CD4(+) T cells in lymph nodes (LNs) is mediated by the Rac activator DOCK2 and PI3Kγ and is widely assumed to facilitate efficient screening of dendritic cells (DCs) presenting peptide-MHCs (pMHCs). Yet how CD4(+) T cell motility, DC density, and pMHC levels interdependently regulate such interactions has not been comprehensively examined. Using intravital imaging of reactive LNs in DC-immunized mice, we show that pMHC levels determined the occurrence and timing of stable CD4(+) T cell-DC interactions. Despite the variability in interaction parameters, ensuing CD4(+) T cell proliferation was comparable over a wide range of pMHC levels. Unexpectedly, decreased intrinsic motility of DOCK2(-/-) CD4(+) T cells did not impair encounters with DCs in dense paracortical networks and, instead, increased interaction stability, whereas PI3Kγ deficiency had no effect on interaction parameters. In contrast, intravital and whole-organ imaging showed that DOCK2-driven T cell motility was required to detach from pMHC(low) DCs and to find rare pMHC(high) DCs. In sum, our data uncover flexible signal integration by scanning CD4(+) T cells, suggesting a search strategy evolved to detect low-frequency DCs presenting high cognate pMHC levels.