Basic Rules of T Cell Migration

  • Jens V. SteinEmail author
  • Federica Moalli
  • Markus Ackerknecht
Part of the Resistance to Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapeutics book series (RTACT, volume 9)


The positive correlation of lymphocyte infiltration into solid tumors with the patient survival, as well as recent successes of checkpoint inhibitors enhancing antitumor responses, have kindled a huge interest in cancer immunotherapy. In fact, adoptive cell therapy (ACT) of tumor-recognizing T cells has led to complete recession of tumors in a subset of melanoma patients. Yet, the molecular mechanisms that guide T cells to infiltrate tumor tissue for the detection and destruction of cancer cells are only incompletely understood. Here, we will give an overview on the basic rules of T cell migration, focusing on extra- and intracellular guidance cues gained primarily from intravital two photon imaging, and relate this with the efficient unfolding of adaptive immune responses. From this, we outline the challenges that T cells face entering and maneuvering inside non-lymphoid tissues including tumor sites.


T cell trafficking Integrins Small GTPases Intravital imaging Extracellular matrix Guanine exchange factors 



Adoptive cell therapy


Antigen-presenting cell




Dendritic cell


Extracellular matrix


Fibroblastic reticular cell


Gut-associated lymphoid tissue


Guanine exchange factor


G-protein coupled receptor


High endothelial venule


Lymph node


Lysophosphatidic acid


Secondary lymphoid organ


Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte



The Stein laboratory is funded by Swiss National Foundation grants 31003A_135649, CR23I3_156234 and CRSII3_141918, and Swiss Cancer League grant KFS-3524-08-2014.

No Conflict Statement No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens V. Stein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Federica Moalli
    • 1
  • Markus Ackerknecht
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Theodor Kocher Institute, University of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical ResearchBaselSwitzerland

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