T cells must migrate in order to encounter antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and to execute their varied functions in immune defense and inflammation. ATP release and autocrine signaling through purinergic receptors contribute to T cell activation at the immune synapse that T cells form with APCs. Here, we show that T cells also require ATP release and purinergic signaling for their migration to APCs. We found that the chemokine SDF-1α triggered mitochondrial ATP production, rapid bursts of ATP release, and increased migration of primary human CD4+ T cells. This process depended on pannexin-1 ATP release channels and autocrine stimulation of P2X4 receptors. SDF-1α stimulation caused localized accumulation of mitochondria with P2X4 receptors near the front of cells, resulting in a feed-forward signaling mechanism that promotes cellular Ca2+ influx and sustains mitochondrial ATP synthesis at levels needed for pseudopod protrusion, T cell polarization, and cell migration. Inhibition of P2X4 receptors blocked the activation and migration of T cells in vitro. In a mouse lung transplant model, P2X4 receptor antagonist treatment prevented the recruitment of T cells into allograft tissue and the rejection of lung transplants. Our findings suggest that P2X4 receptors are therapeutic targets for immunomodulation in transplantation and inflammatory diseases.
Carola Ledderose, Kaifeng Liu, Yutaka Kondo, Christian J. Slubowski, Thomas Dertnig, Sara Denicoló, Mona Arbab, Johannes Hubner, Kirstin Konrad, Mahtab Fakhari, James A. Lederer, Simon C. Robson, Gary A. Visner, Wolfgang G. Junger