Impact of the Immunological Synapse on T Cell Signaling

  • Michael L. DustinEmail author
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 43)


T cell activation requires interactions of T cell antigen receptors and peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex molecules in an adhesive junction between the T cell and antigen-presenting cell (APC). Stable junctions with bull's-eye supramolecular activation clusters have been defined as immunological synapses (IS). These structures maintain T cell–APC interaction and allow directed secretion. T cells can also be activated by asymmetric hemisynapses (HS) that allow migration during signal integration. IS and HS dominate in different stages of T cell priming. Optimal effector functions may also depend upon cyclical use of IS and HS.

Immunological synapses Signaling Intravital microscopy Cell migration Autoimmunity 



Antigen-presenting cell


Cyan fluorescent protein


Carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester


Central nervous system


Dendritic cell


Enhanced green fluorescent protein


High endothelial venules




Intercellular adhesion molecule


Immunological synapse


Lymphocyte function associated


Myelin basic protein


Major histocompatibility complex–peptide complex


Natural killer T cell


Supramolecular activation cluster


T cell receptor


Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy


Two-photon laser scanning microscopy


Yellow fluorescent protein


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I thank R. Varma, G. Campi, T. Sims, T. Cameron, J. Kim, G. Shakhar, and M. Nussenzweig for valuable discussions.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Molecular Pathogenesis, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, and Department of PathologyNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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