Immunology

Synaptic Cytoskeleton

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Science  09 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5506, pp. 947-949
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5506.947D

The specialized point of contact that forms between the membrane of a T cell and that of an antigen presenting cell (APC) has been dubbed the “immunological synapse,” because of its role in delivering sustained signals to the T cell. Synapse formation is critically dependent on the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton in the T cell and results in the intimate gathering of membrane-associated signaling molecules. To date, there has been little evidence that equivalent changes in the cellular framework of the APC are required in synapse formation.

However, when dendritic cells—rather than B cells—were used as APC, Al-Alwan et al. observed the formation of cellular foci containing actin and an associated protein called fascin upon the clustering of dendritic cells with T cells. Furthermore, pretreatment of the dendritic cells with inhibitors of actin dynamics profoundly diminished this clustering and the proliferation of T cells in response to antigen. Hence, these data suggest that the dendritic cell cytoskeleton might, after all, influence immune synapse formation and contribute to the unique ability of these cells to activate naïve T cells. — SJS

J. Immunol.166, 1452 (2001).

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