Phosphoprotein associated with glycosphingolipid-enriched microdomains (PAG), a novel ubiquitously expressed transmembrane adaptor protein, binds the protein tyrosine kinase csk and is involved in regulation of T cell activation.
According to a recently proposed hypothesis, initiation of signal transduction via immunoreceptors depends on interactions of the engaged immunoreceptor with glycosphingolipid-enriched membrane microdomains (GEMs). In this study, we describe a novel GEM-associated transmembrane adaptor protein, termed phosphoprotein associated with GEMs (PAG). PAG comprises a short extracellular domain of 16 amino acids and a 397-amino acid cytoplasmic tail containing ten tyrosine residues that are likely phosphorylated by Src family kinases. In lymphoid cell lines and in resting peripheral blood alpha/beta T cells, PAG is expressed as a constitutively tyrosine-phosphorylated protein and binds the major negative regulator of Src kinases, the tyrosine kinase Csk. After activation of peripheral blood alpha/beta T cells, PAG becomes rapidly dephosphorylated and dissociates from Csk. Expression of PAG in COS cells results in recruitment of endogenous Csk, altered Src kinase activity, and impaired phosphorylation of Src-specific substrates. Moreover, overexpression of PAG in Jurkat cells downregulates T cell receptor-mediated activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells. These findings collectively suggest that in the absence of external stimuli, the PAG-Csk complex transmits negative regulatory signals and thus may help to keep resting T cells in a quiescent state.