The ability of the cellular immune system to discriminate self from foreign antigens depends on the appropriate calibration of the T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling threshold. The lymphocyte homeostatic cytokine interleukin 7 (IL-7) is known to affect TCR thresholding, but the molecular mechanism is not fully elucidated. A better understanding of this process is highly relevant in the context of autoimmune disease therapy and cancer immunotherapy. We sought to characterise the early signalling events attributable to IL-7 priming; in particular, the altered phosphorylation of signal transduction proteins and their molecular localisation to the TCR. By integrating high-resolution proximity- phospho-proteomic and imaging approaches using primary T cells, rather than engineered cell lines or an in vitro expanded T cell population, we uncovered transduction events previously not linked to IL-7. We show that IL-7 leads to dephosphorylation of cytohesin interacting protein (CYTIP) at a hitherto undescribed phosphorylation site (pThr280) and alters the co-localisation of cytohesin 1 with the TCR and LFA-1 integrin. These results show that IL-7, acting via CYTIP and cytohesin-1, may impact TCR activation thresholds by enhancing the co-clustering of TCR and LFA-1 integrin.

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