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Immunol Rev. 2013 Jan;251(1):21-35. doi: 10.1111/imr.12010.

Super-resolution characterization of TCR-dependent signaling clusters.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, CCR, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-4256, USA.


Multi-molecular signaling complexes drive the earliest events of immune cell activation via immunoreceptors with unexplained specificity and speed. Fluorescence microscopy has shown that these complexes form microclusters at the plasma membrane of activated T cells upon engagement of their antigen receptors (TCRs). Although crucial for cell function, much remains to be learned about the molecular content, fine structure, formation mechanisms, and function of these microclusters. Recent advancements in super-resolution microscopy have enabled the study of signaling microclusters at the single molecule level with resolution down to approximately 20 nm. These techniques have now helped to characterize the size distributions of signaling clusters at the plasma membrane of intact cells and to shed light on the formation mechanisms that govern their assembly. Surprisingly, dynamic and functional nanostructures have been identified within the signaling clusters. We expect that these novel methodologies, combined with older techniques, will shed new light on the nature of signaling clusters and their critical role in T-cell activation.

Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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