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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jun;35(6):1741-53.

Multifocal structure of the T cell - dendritic cell synapse.

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Département de Biologie Cellulaire, Institut Cochin, INSERM U567, CNRS UMR 8104, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


The structure of immunological synapses formed between murine naive T cells and mature dendritic cells has been subjected to a quantitative analysis. Immunofluorescence images of synapses formed in the absence of antigen show a diffuse synaptic accumulation of CD3 and LFA-1. In electron microscopy, these antigen-free synapses present a number of tight appositions (cleft size approximately 15 nm), all along the synapse. These tight appositions cover a significantly larger surface fraction of antigen-dependent synapses. In immunofluorescence, antigen-dependent synapses show multiple patches of CD3 and LFA-1 with a variable overlap. A similar distribution is observed for PKCtheta and talin. A concentric organization characteristic of prototypical synapses is rarely observed, even when dendritic cells are paralyzed by cytoskeletal poisons. In T-DC synapses, the interaction surface is composed of several tens of submicronic contact spots, with no large-scale segregation of CD3 and LFA-1. As a comparison, in T-B synapses, a central cluster of CD3 is frequently observed by immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy reveals a central tight apposition. Our data show that it is inappropriate to consider the concentric structure as a "mature synapse" and multifocal structures as immature.

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