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Annu Rev Immunol. 2010;28:79-105. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-030409-101308.

Functional anatomy of T cell activation and synapse formation.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Pathogenesis, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York, 10016, USA. David.Fooksman@med.nyu.edu

Abstract

T cell activation and function require a structured engagement of antigen-presenting cells. These cell contacts are characterized by two distinct dynamics in vivo: transient contacts resulting from promigratory junctions called immunological kinapses or prolonged contacts from stable junctions called immunological synapses. Kinapses operate in the steady state to allow referencing to self-peptide-MHC (pMHC) and searching for pathogen-derived pMHC. Synapses are induced by T cell receptor (TCR) interactions with agonist pMHC under specific conditions and correlate with robust immune responses that generate effector and memory T cells. High-resolution imaging has revealed that the synapse is highly coordinated, integrating cell adhesion, TCR recognition of pMHC complexes, and an array of activating and inhibitory ligands to promote or prevent T cell signaling. In this review, we examine the molecular components, geometry, and timing underlying kinapses and synapses. We integrate recent molecular and physiological data to provide a synthesis and suggest ways forward.

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