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Semin Immunol. 2003 Dec;15(6):307-15.

Linking molecular and cellular events in T-cell activation and synapse formation.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5323, USA.


The complex sequence of events in which T cells recognize foreign entities on other cells is not well understood. However, the development of new techniques and approaches in both the molecular and cellular aspects of this problem have provided significant insights into the mechanisms of T-cell recognition and synapse formation. In particular, we have a clearer picture of T-cell sensitivity, the role of co-stimulation in formation of the immunological synapse, and how TCR signaling acts to maintain synapse structure and potentiate the T cells over many hours of engagement. We also are aware of new complexities in the way T-cell receptor molecules bind peptide-MHC (pMHC) ligands and what that may mean for TCR scanning, cross-reactivity, and activation. Ultimately, we want to integrate these cellular aspects of T-cell recognition with key features of the molecular interactions that drive specific events.

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