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Immunol Rev. 2008 Feb;221:147-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2008.00596.x.

Two-photon imaging of effector T-cell behavior: lessons from a tumor model.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Recent advances in two-photon microscopy have provided a new way of visualizing the behavior of fluorescently tagged cells within their natural microenvironment. This technology has allowed for generating a detailed picture of the cellular interaction dynamics operant in the activation of T cells and B cells during primary immune responses within secondary lymphoid organs. In contrast, relatively little is known about the migratory and interactive behavior of effector T cells within peripheral organs. We have recently developed a two-photon microscopy model that enables tracking of cytotoxic T cells within tumors. We have demonstrated that tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs) follow random migratory paths and that their migratory properties depend on signals from the T-cell receptor. We further showed that TILs underwent short- and long-term interactions with tumor cells as well as macrophages. Recently, we succeeded in dynamic imaging of the distribution of fluorescently tagged molecules within TILs at subcellular resolution, which will be instrumental for defining the composition of the lytic synapse as well as the targeted release of cytotoxic granules by these cells. The purpose of this review is to put our findings into the context of the current literature and to point out the molecular cues mediating effector T-cell function as candidates for future investigation.

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