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Immunology. Jan 1979; 36(1): 119–129.
PMCID: PMC1457384

The mechanism of T-cell mediated cytotoxicity. VI. T-cell projections and their role in target cell killing.


Electron micrographs of material fixed during the first 10 min of a T-cell cytotoxic system showed T-cell projections and T-cell burrowing into target cells. These observations were made possible by using a system with a very high rate of killing. The projections vary in shape and size, and can push deeply into the target cell, distorting organelles in their path, including the nucleus. The projections contain fine fibrillar material, to the exclusion of organelles. They push the target cell membrane in front of them to form pockets approximating to the shape of the projection. Areas of close contact occur between the projections and the target cell membrane, particularly at the leading edges. The likelihood that these projections develop as a result of contact with specific antigen, and are involved in the cytotoxic mechanism is discussed.

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Selected References

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