A high-throughput two-cell assay for interrogating inhibitory signaling pathways in T cells.
Sharma S., Whitehead T., Kotowski M., Ng EZQ., Clarke J., Leitner J., Chen Y-L., Santos AM., Steinberger P., Davis SJ.
The recent success of immunotherapies relying on manipulation of T-cell activation highlights the value of characterising the mediators of immune checkpoint signaling. CRISPR/Cas9 is a popular approach for interrogating signaling pathways; however, the lack of appropriate assays for studying inhibitory signaling in T cells is limiting the use of large-scale perturbation-based approaches. Here, we adapted an existing Jurkat cell-based transcriptional reporter assay to study both activatory and inhibitory (PD-1-mediated) T-cell signaling using CRISPR-based genome screening in arrayed and pooled formats. We targeted 64 SH2 domain-containing proteins expressed by Jurkat T cells in an arrayed screen, in which individual targets could be assessed independently, showing that arrays can be used to study mediators of both activatory and inhibitory signaling. Pooled screens succeeded in simultaneously identifying many of the known mediators of proximal activating and inhibitory T-cell signaling, including SHP2 and PD-1, confirming the utility of the method. Altogether, the data suggested that SHP2 is the major PD-1-specific, SH2 family mediator of inhibitory signaling. These approaches should allow the systematic analysis of signaling pathways in T cells.