Showing 1 - 25 of 28 results
Selective induction of programmed cell death using synthetic biology tools.
Regulated cell death (RCD) controls the removal of dispensable, infected or malignant cells, and is thus essential for development, homeostasis and immunity of multicellular organisms. Over the last years different forms of RCD have been described (among them apoptosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis), and the cellular signaling pathways that control their induction and execution have been characterized at the molecular level. It has also become apparent that different forms of RCD differ in their capacity to elicit inflammation or an immune response, and that RCD pathways show a remarkable plasticity. Biochemical and genetic studies revealed that inhibition of a given pathway often results in the activation of back-up cell death mechanisms, highlighting close interconnectivity based on shared signaling components and the assembly of multivalent signaling platforms that can initiate different forms of RCD. Due to this interconnectivity and the pleiotropic effects of 'classical' cell death inducers, it is challenging to study RCD pathways in isolation. This has led to the development of tools based on synthetic biology that allow the targeted induction of RCD using chemogenetic or optogenetic methods. Here we discuss recent advances in the development of such toolset, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and their application for the study of RCD in cells and animals.
Optogenetic control of the integrated stress response reveals proportional encoding and the stress memory landscape.
The integrated stress response (ISR) is a conserved signaling network that detects aberrations and computes cellular responses. Dissecting these computations has been difficult because physical and chemical inducers of stress activate multiple parallel pathways. To overcome this challenge, we engineered a photo-switchable control over the ISR sensor kinase PKR (opto-PKR), enabling virtual, on-target activation. Using light to control opto-PKR dynamics, we traced information flow through the transcriptome and for key downstream ISR effectors. Our analyses revealed a biphasic, proportional transcriptional response with two dynamic modes, transient and gradual, that correspond to adaptive and terminal outcomes. We then constructed an ordinary differential equation (ODE) model of the ISR, which demonstrated the dependence of future stress responses on past stress. Finally, we tested our model using high-throughput light-delivery to map the stress memory landscape. Our results demonstrate that cells encode information in stress levels, durations, and the timing between encounters. A record of this paper's transparent peer review process is included in the supplemental information.
Advanced human iPSC-based preclinical model for Parkinson's disease with optogenetic alpha-synuclein aggregation.
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) offer advantages for disease modeling and drug discovery. However, recreating innate cellular pathologies, particularly in late-onset neurodegenerative diseases with accumulated protein aggregates including Parkinson's disease (PD), has been challenging. To overcome this barrier, we developed an optogenetics-assisted α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregation induction system (OASIS) that rapidly induces α-syn aggregates and toxicity in PD hiPSC-midbrain dopaminergic neurons and midbrain organoids. Our OASIS-based primary compound screening with SH-SY5Y cells identified 5 candidates that were secondarily validated with OASIS PD hiPSC-midbrain dopaminergic neurons and midbrain organoids, leading us to finally select BAG956. Furthermore, BAG956 significantly reverses characteristic PD phenotypes in α-syn preformed fibril models in vitro and in vivo by promoting autophagic clearance of pathological α-syn aggregates. Following the FDA Modernization Act 2.0's emphasis on alternative non-animal testing methods, our OASIS can serve as an animal-free preclinical test model (newly termed "nonclinical test") for the synucleinopathy drug development.
Optogenetic Activation of Ripk3 Reveals a Thresholding Mechanism in Intracellular and Intercellular Necroptosis.
Necroptosis is programmed cell death that involves active cytokine production and membrane ruptures. Whereas intracellular necroptosis has been extensively studied, intercellular propagation of necroptosis is much less understood. Pharmacological induction of necroptosis cannot delineate whether a necroptotic cell can propagate the death signal to its neighbor because of the confounding effect from the exogenously administrated death-inducers. To address this challenge, we develop an optogenetic system to enable ligand-free, optical induction of necroptosis at the single-cell level. This system, termed Light-activatable Receptor-Interacting Protein Kinase 3 or La-RIPK3, utilizes CRY2olig, a variant of the photoactivatable protein cryptochrome, to induce oligomerization of RIPK3 under blue light stimulation. Kinetic analysis La-RIPK3-activated cells shows that cytokine production and membrane rupture follows distinct kinetics. Moreover, membrane rupture requires a higher threshold of RIPK3 kinase activity than cytokine production. Intriguingly, intercellular propagation of necroptosis requires at least two proximal necroptotic cells, and a single necroptotic cell rarely induces such propagation. These results imply that RIPK3 acts as a gatekeeper to define the threshold of distinct functional outcomes of intracellular and intercellular necroptosis. Such a thresholding mechanism could allow cells to make informed decisions by evaluating the severity of environmental stress when walking a tightrope between committing an immunogenic suicidal fate and maintaining membrane integrity. This study highlights the role of RIPK3-containing necrosomes in regulating intracellular and intercellular necroptosis and offers an optimized optogenetic tool for investigating RIPK3-dependent necroptotic pathways.
Light-activated macromolecular phase separation modulates transcription by reconfiguring chromatin interactions.
Biomolecular condensates participate in the regulation of gene transcription, yet the relationship between nuclear condensation and transcriptional activation remains elusive. Here, we devised a biotinylated CRISPR-dCas9-based optogenetic method, light-activated macromolecular phase separation (LAMPS), to enable inducible formation, affinity purification, and multiomic dissection of nuclear condensates at the targeted genomic loci. LAMPS-induced condensation at enhancers and promoters activates endogenous gene transcription by chromatin reconfiguration, causing increased chromatin accessibility and de novo formation of long-range chromosomal loops. Proteomic profiling of light-induced condensates by dCas9-mediated affinity purification uncovers multivalent interaction-dependent remodeling of macromolecular composition, resulting in the selective enrichment of transcriptional coactivators and chromatin structure proteins. Our findings support a model whereby the formation of nuclear condensates at native genomic loci reconfigures chromatin architecture and multiprotein assemblies to modulate gene transcription. Hence, LAMPS facilitates mechanistic interrogation of the relationship between nuclear condensation, genome structure, and gene transcription in living cells.
Calcium transients trigger switch-like discharge of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in an ERK-dependent manner.
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is a key player in a plethora of physiological and pathological events. Nevertheless, little is known about the dynamics of PGE2 secretion from a single cell and its effect on the neighboring cells. Here, by observing confluent Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells expressing fluorescent biosensors we demonstrate that calcium transients in a single cell cause PGE2-mediated radial spread of PKA activation (RSPA) in neighboring cells. By in vivo imaging, RSPA was also observed in the basal layer of the mouse epidermis. Experiments with an optogenetic tool revealed a switch-like PGE2 discharge in response to the increasing cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentrations. The cell density of MDCK cells correlated with the frequencies of calcium transients and the following RSPA. The ERK MAP kinase activation also enhanced the frequency of RSPA in MDCK and in vivo. Thus, the PGE2 discharge is regulated temporally by calcium transients and ERK activity.
Precise modulation of embryonic development through optogenetics.
The past decade has witnessed enormous progress in optogenetics, which uses photo-sensitive proteins to control signal transduction in live cells and animals. The ever-increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, could overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. In this work, we summarize recent progress in this emerging field and highlight the application of opsin-free optogenetics in studying embryonic development, focusing on new insights gained into optical induction of morphogenesis, cell polarity, cell fate determination, tissue differentiation, neuronal regeneration, synaptic plasticity, and removal of cells during development.
Proteomic mapping and optogenetic manipulation of membrane contact sites.
Membrane contact sites (MCSs) mediate crucial physiological processes in eukaryotic cells, including ion signaling, lipid metabolism, and autophagy. Dysregulation of MCSs is closely related to various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), neurodegenerative diseases, and cancers. Visualization, proteomic mapping and manipulation of MCSs may help the dissection of the physiology and pathology MCSs. Recent technical advances have enabled better understanding of the dynamics and functions of MCSs. Here we present a summary of currently known functions of MCSs, with a focus on optical approaches to visualize and manipulate MCSs, as well as proteomic mapping within MCSs.
Recent advances in cellular optogenetics for photomedicine.
Since the successful introduction of exogenous photosensitive proteins, channelrhodopsin, to neurons, optogenetics has enabled substantial understanding of profound brain function by selectively manipulating neural circuits. In an optogenetic system, optical stimulation can be precisely delivered to brain tissue to achieve regulation of cellular electrical activity with unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution in living organisms. In recent years, the development of various optical actuators and novel light-delivery techniques has greatly expanded the scope of optogenetics, enabling the control of other signal pathways in non-neuronal cells for different biomedical applications, such as phototherapy and immunotherapy. This review focuses on the recent advances in optogenetic regulation of cellular activities for photomedicine. We discuss emerging optogenetic tools and light-delivery platforms, along with a survey of optogenetic execution in mammalian and microbial cells.
Engineering of optogenetic devices for biomedical applications in mammalian synthetic biology.
Gene- and cell-based therapies are the next frontiers in the field of medicine. Both are transformative and innovative therapies; however, a lack of safety data limits the translation of such promising technologies to the clinic. Improving the safety and promoting the clinical translation of these therapies can be achieved by tightly regulating the release and delivery of therapeutic outputs. In recent years, the rapid development of optogenetic technology has provided opportunities to develop precision-controlled gene- and cell-based therapies, in which light is introduced to precisely and spatiotemporally manipulate the behaviour of genes and cells. This review focuses on the development of optogenetic tools and their applications in biomedicine, including photoactivated genome engineering and phototherapy for diabetes and tumours. The prospects and challenges of optogenetic tools for future clinical applications are also discussed.
The expanding role of split protein complementation in opsin-free optogenetics.
A comprehensive understanding of signaling mechanisms helps interpret fundamental biological processes and restore cell behavior from pathological conditions. Signaling outcome depends not only on the activity of each signaling component but also on their dynamic interaction in time and space, which remains challenging to probe by biochemical and cell-based assays. Opsin-based optogenetics has transformed neural science research with its spatiotemporal modulation of the activity of excitable cells. Motivated by this advantage, opsin-free optogenetics extends the power of light to a larger spectrum of signaling molecules. This review summarizes commonly used opsin-free optogenetic strategies, presents a historical overview of split protein complementation, and highlights the adaptation of split protein recombination as optogenetic sensors and actuators.
A nucleation barrier spring-loads the CBM signalosome for binary activation.
Immune cells activate in a binary, switch-like fashion that involves proteins polymerizing into large complexes known as signalosomes. The switch-like nature of signalosome formation has been proposed to result from large energy barriers to polymer nucleation. Whether such nucleation barriers indeed drive binary immune responses has not yet been shown. Here, we employed an in-cell biophysical approach to dissect the assembly mechanism of the CARD-BCL10-MALT1 (CBM) signalosome, a key determinant of transcription factor NF-κB activation in both innate and adaptive immunity. We found that the adaptor protein BCL10 encodes an intrinsic nucleation barrier, and that this barrier has been conserved from cnidaria to humans. Using optogenetic tools and a single-cell transcriptional reporter of NF-κB activity, we further revealed that endogenous human BCL10 is supersaturated even in unstimulated cells, indicating that the nucleation barrier operationally stores energy for subsequent activation. We found that upon stimulation, BCL10 nucleation by CARD9 multimers triggers self-templated polymerization that saturates NF-κB activation to produce a binary response. Pathogenic mutants of CARD9 that cause human immunodeficiencies eliminated nucleating activity. Conversely, a hyperactive cancer-causing mutation in BCL10 increased its spontaneous nucleation. Our results indicate that unassembled CBM signalosome components function analogously to a spring-loaded mousetrap, constitutively poised to activate NF-κB through irrevocable polymerization. This finding may inform our understanding of the root causes and progressive nature of pathogenic and age-associated inflammation.
Optophysiology: Illuminating cell physiology with optogenetics.
Optogenetics combines light and genetics to enable precise control of living cells, tissues, and organisms with tailored functions. Optogenetics has the advantages of noninvasiveness, rapid responsiveness, tunable reversibility, and superior spatiotemporal resolution. Following the initial discovery of microbial opsins as light-actuated ion channels, a plethora of naturally occurring or engineered photoreceptors or photosensitive domains that respond to light at varying wavelengths has ushered in the next chapter of optogenetics. Through protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches, genetically encoded photoswitches can be modularly engineered into protein scaffolds or host cells to control a myriad of biological processes, as well as to enable behavioral control and disease intervention in vivo. Here, we summarize these optogenetic tools on the basis of their fundamental photochemical properties to better inform the chemical basis and design principles. We also highlight exemplary applications of opsin-free optogenetics in dissecting cellular physiology (designated "optophysiology") and describe the current progress, as well as future trends, in wireless optogenetics, which enables remote interrogation of physiological processes with minimal invasiveness. This review is anticipated to spark novel thoughts on engineering next-generation optogenetic tools and devices that promise to accelerate both basic and translational studies.
Optogenetic activation of intracellular signaling based on light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions.
Dynamic protein-protein interactions are essential for proper cell functioning. Homo-interaction events-physical interactions between the same type of proteins-represent a pivotal subset of protein-protein interactions that are widely exploited in activating intracellular signaling pathways. Capacities of modulating protein-protein interactions with spatial and temporal resolution are greatly desired to decipher the dynamic nature of signal transduction mechanisms. The emerging optogenetic technology, based on genetically encoded light-sensitive proteins, provides promising opportunities to dissect the highly complex signaling networks with unmatched specificity and spatiotemporal precision. Here we review recent achievements in the development of optogenetic tools enabling light-inducible protein-protein homo-interactions and their applications in optical activation of signaling pathways.
Applications of Upconversion Nanoparticles in Cellular Optogenetics.
Upconversion-mediated optogenetics is an emerging powerful technique to remotely control and manipulate the deep-tissue protein functions and signaling pathway activation. This technique uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and through near-infrared light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. With the merits of high spatiotemporal resolution and minimal invasiveness, this technique enables cell-type specific manipulation of cellular activities in deep tissues as well as in living animals. In this review, we introduce the latest development of optogenetic modules and UCNPs, with emphasis on the integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics and their biomedical applications on the control of neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. Furthermore, we analyze the current developed strategies to optimize and advance the upconversion-mediated optogenetics and discuss the remaining challenges of its further applications in biomedical study and clinical translational research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Optogenetics harnesses photoactivatable proteins to optically stimulate and control intracellular activities. UCNPs-mediated NIR-activatable optogenetics uses lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) as light transducers and utilizes near-infrared (NIR) light to indirectly activate the traditional optogenetic proteins. The integration of UCNPs with cellular optogenetics has showed great promise in biomedical applications in regulating neural/brain activity, cancer therapy and cardiac optogenetics in vivo. The evolution and optimization of functional UCNPs and the discovery and engineering of novel optogenetic modules would both contribute to the advance of such unique hybrid technology, which may lead to discoveries in biomedical research and provide new treatments for human diseases.
Optogenetic Approaches for the Spatiotemporal Control of Signal Transduction Pathways.
Biological signals are sensed by their respective receptors and are transduced and processed by a sophisticated intracellular signaling network leading to a signal-specific cellular response. Thereby, the response to the signal depends on the strength, the frequency, and the duration of the stimulus as well as on the subcellular signal progression. Optogenetic tools are based on genetically encoded light-sensing proteins facilitating the precise spatiotemporal control of signal transduction pathways and cell fate decisions in the absence of natural ligands. In this review, we provide an overview of optogenetic approaches connecting light-regulated protein-protein interaction or caging/uncaging events with steering the function of signaling proteins. We briefly discuss the most common optogenetic switches and their mode of action. The main part deals with the engineering and application of optogenetic tools for the control of transmembrane receptors including receptor tyrosine kinases, the T cell receptor and integrins, and their effector proteins. We also address the hallmarks of optogenetics, the spatial and temporal control of signaling events.
Biophysical and biochemical properties of Deup1 self-assemblies: a potential driver for deuterosome formation during multiciliogenesis.
The deuterosome is a non-membranous organelle involved in large-scale centriole amplification during multiciliogenesis. Deuterosomes are specifically assembled during the process of multiciliogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying deuterosome formation are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the molecular properties of deuterosome protein 1 (Deup1), an essential protein involved in deuterosome assembly. We found that Deup1 has the ability to self-assemble into macromolecular condensates both in vitro and in cells. The Deup1-containing structures formed in multiciliogenesis and the Deup1 condensates self-assembled in vitro showed low turnover of Deup1, suggesting that Deup1 forms highly stable structures. Our biochemical analyses revealed that an increase of the concentration of Deup1 and a crowded molecular environment both facilitate Deup1 self-assembly. The self-assembly of Deup1 relies on its N-terminal region, which contains multiple coiled coil domains. Using an optogenetic approach, we demonstrated that self-assembly and the C-terminal half of Deup1 were sufficient to spatially compartmentalize centrosomal protein 152 (Cep152) and polo like kinase 4 (Plk4), master components for centriole biogenesis, in the cytoplasm. Collectively, the present data suggest that Deup1 forms the structural core of the deuterosome through self-assembly into stable macromolecular condensates.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Steering Molecular Activity with Optogenetics: Recent Advances and Perspectives.
Optogenetics utilizes photosensitive proteins to manipulate the localization and interaction of molecules in living cells. Because light can be rapidly switched and conveniently confined to the sub‐micrometer scale, optogenetics allows for controlling cellular events with an unprecedented resolution in time and space. The past decade has witnessed an enormous progress in the field of optogenetics within the biological sciences. The ever‐increasing amount of optogenetic tools, however, can overwhelm the selection of appropriate optogenetic strategies. Considering that each optogenetic tool may have a distinct mode of action, a comparative analysis of the current optogenetic toolbox can promote the further use of optogenetics, especially by researchers new to this field. This review provides such a compilation that highlights the spatiotemporal accuracy of current optogenetic systems. Recent advances of optogenetics in live cells and animal models are summarized, the emerging work that interlinks optogenetics with other research fields is presented, and exciting clinical and industrial efforts to employ optogenetic strategy toward disease intervention are reported.
Optogenetic interrogation and control of cell signaling.
Signaling networks control the flow of information through biological systems and coordinate the chemical processes that constitute cellular life. Optogenetic actuators - genetically encoded proteins that undergo light-induced changes in activity or conformation - are useful tools for probing signaling networks over time and space. They have permitted detailed dissections of cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility, and death, and enabled the assembly of synthetic systems with applications in areas as diverse as photography, chemical synthesis, and medicine. In this review, we provide a brief introduction to optogenetic systems and describe their application to molecular-level analyses of cell signaling. Our discussion highlights important research achievements and speculates on future opportunities to exploit optogenetic systems in the study and assembly of complex biochemical networks.
Engineering Photosensory Modules of Non-Opsin-Based Optogenetic Actuators.
Optogenetic (photo-responsive) actuators engineered from photoreceptors are widely used in various applications to study cell biology and tissue physiology. In the toolkit of optogenetic actuators, the key building blocks are genetically encodable light-sensitive proteins. Currently, most optogenetic photosensory modules are engineered from naturally-occurring photoreceptor proteins from bacteria, fungi, and plants. There is a growing demand for novel photosensory domains with improved optical properties and light-induced responses to satisfy the needs of a wider variety of studies in biological sciences. In this review, we focus on progress towards engineering of non-opsin-based photosensory domains, and their representative applications in cell biology and physiology. We summarize current knowledge of engineering of light-sensitive proteins including light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain (LOV), cryptochrome (CRY2), phytochrome (PhyB and BphP), and fluorescent protein (FP)-based photosensitive domains (Dronpa and PhoCl).
Syntaxin Clustering and Optogenetic Control for Synaptic Membrane Fusion.
Membrane fusion during synaptic transmission mediates the trafficking of chemical signals and neuronal communication. The fast kinetics of membrane fusion on the order of millisecond is precisely regulated by the assembly of SNAREs and accessory proteins. It is believed that the formation of the SNARE complex is a key step during membrane fusion. Little is known, however, about the molecular machinery that mediates the formation of a large pre-fusion complex, including multiple SNAREs and accessory proteins. Syntaxin, a transmembrane protein on the plasma membrane, has been observed to undergo oligomerization to form clusters. Whether this clustering plays a critical role in membrane fusion is poorly understood in live cells. Optogenetics is an emerging biotechnology armed with the capacity to precisely modulate protein-protein interaction in time and space. Here, we propose an experimental scheme that combines optogenetics with single-vesicle membrane fusion, aiming to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanism by which the syntaxin cluster regulates membrane fusion. We envision that newly developed optogenetic tools could facilitate the mechanistic understanding of synaptic transmission in live cells and animals.
Non-invasive optical control of endogenous Ca2+ channels in awake mice.
Optogenetic approaches for controlling Ca2+ channels provide powerful means for modulating diverse Ca2+-specific biological events in space and time. However, blue light-responsive photoreceptors are, in principle, considered inadequate for deep tissue stimulation unless accompanied by optic fiber insertion. Here, we present an ultra-light-sensitive optogenetic Ca2+ modulator, named monSTIM1 encompassing engineered cryptochrome2 for manipulating Ca2+ signaling in the brain of awake mice through non-invasive light delivery. Activation of monSTIM1 in either excitatory neurons or astrocytes of mice brain is able to induce Ca2+-dependent gene expression without any mechanical damage in the brain. Furthermore, we demonstrate that non-invasive Ca2+ modulation in neurons can be sufficiently and effectively translated into changes in behavioral phenotypes of awake mice.
Flotillins promote T cell receptor sorting through a fast Rab5-Rab11 endocytic recycling axis.
The targeted endocytic recycling of the T cell receptor (TCR) to the immunological synapse is essential for T cell activation. Despite this, the mechanisms that underlie the sorting of internalised receptors into recycling endosomes remain poorly understood. To build a comprehensive picture of TCR recycling during T cell activation, we developed a suite of new imaging and quantification tools centred on photoactivation of fluorescent proteins. We show that the membrane-organising proteins, flotillin-1 and -2, are required for TCR to reach Rab5-positive endosomes immediately after endocytosis and for transfer from Rab5- to Rab11a-positive compartments. We further observe that after sorting into in Rab11a-positive vesicles, TCR recycles to the plasma membrane independent of flotillin expression. Our data suggest a mechanism whereby flotillins delineate a fast Rab5-Rab11a endocytic recycling axis and functionally contribute to regulate the spatial organisation of these endosomes.
Light‐Controlled Mammalian Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Synthetic Biology.
The ability to remote control the expression of therapeutic genes in mammalian cells in order to treat disease is a central goal of synthetic biology‐inspired therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, optogenetics, a combination of light and genetic sciences, provides an unprecedented ability to use light for precise control of various cellular activities with high spatiotemporal resolution. Recent work to combine optogenetics and therapeutic synthetic biology has led to the engineering of light‐controllable designer cells, whose behavior can be regulated precisely and noninvasively. This Review focuses mainly on non‐neural optogenetic systems, which are often used in synthetic biology, and their applications in genetic programing of mammalian cells. Here, a brief overview of the optogenetic tool kit that is available to build light‐sensitive mammalian cells is provided. Then, recently developed strategies for the control of designer cells with specific biological functions are summarized. Recent translational applications of optogenetically engineered cells are also highlighted, ranging from in vitro basic research to in vivo light‐controlled gene therapy. Finally, current bottlenecks, possible solutions, and future prospects for optogenetics in synthetic biology are discussed.
A mobile endocytic network connects clathrin-independent receptor endocytosis to recycling and promotes T cell activation.
Endocytosis of surface receptors and their polarized recycling back to the plasma membrane are central to many cellular processes, such as cell migration, cytokinesis, basolateral polarity of epithelial cells and T cell activation. Little is known about the mechanisms that control the organization of recycling endosomes and how they connect to receptor endocytosis. Here, we follow the endocytic journey of the T cell receptor (TCR), from internalization at the plasma membrane to recycling back to the immunological synapse. We show that TCR triggering leads to its rapid uptake through a clathrin-independent pathway. Immediately after internalization, TCR is incorporated into a mobile and long-lived endocytic network demarked by the membrane-organizing proteins flotillins. Although flotillins are not required for TCR internalization, they are necessary for its recycling to the immunological synapse. We further show that flotillins are essential for T cell activation, supporting TCR nanoscale organization and signaling.