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PLoS Comput Biol. 2012;8(11):e1002763. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002763. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Chemotactic migration of T cells towards dendritic cells promotes the detection of rare antigens.

Author information

1
Theoretical Biology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

In many immunological processes chemoattraction is thought to play a role in guiding cells to their sites of action. However, based on in vivo two-photon microscopy experiments in the absence of cognate antigen, T cell migration in lymph nodes (LNs) has been roughly described as a random walk. Although it has been shown that dendritic cells (DCs) carrying cognate antigen in some circumstances attract T cells chemotactically, it is currently still unclear whether chemoattraction of T cells towards DCs helps or hampers scanning. Chemoattraction towards DCs could on the one hand help T cells to rapidly find DCs. On the other hand, it could be deleterious if DCs become shielded by a multitude of attracted yet non-specific T cells. Results from a recent simulation study suggested that the deleterious effect dominates. We re-addressed the question whether T cell chemoattraction towards DCs is expected to promote or hamper the detection of rare antigens using the Cellular Potts Model, a formalism that allows for dynamic, flexible cellular shapes and cell migration. Our simulations show that chemoattraction of T cells enhances the DC scanning efficiency, leading to an increased probability that rare antigen-specific T cells find DCs carrying cognate antigen. Desensitization of T cells after contact with a DC further improves the scanning efficiency, yielding an almost threefold enhancement compared to random migration. Moreover, the chemotaxis-driven migration still roughly appears as a random walk, hence fine-tuned analysis of cell tracks will be required to detect chemotaxis within microscopy data.

PMID:
23166480
PMCID:
PMC3499258
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002763
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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