The immunological synapse
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Induction of a proper adaptive immune response is dependent on correct transfer of informations between antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and antigen specific T cells. Defects in information transfer may result in development of diseases, e.g. immunodeficiencies and autoimmunity. A distinct 3-dimensional supramolecular structure at the T cell/APC interface has been suggested to be involved in the information transfer. Due to its functional analogy to the neuronal synapse, the structure was termed the ?immunological synapse? (IS). Here, we review molecular aspects concerning IS formation, appearance, and cessation. In addition, proposed functions of the IS are discussed. The process of IS formation occur in a sequential manner initially causing a remarkable large-scale redistribution of a number of integral membrane- and cytosolic proteins. At the T cell/APC interface the structure comprises in its nascent stage a non-random pattern of protein distribution. The protein pattern is regulated during development of the mature IS and is finally organized into concentric rings of co-receptors and adhesive molecules surrounding the T cell antigen receptor (TCR). The relocations of proteins are influenced by passive as well as active mechanisms. Considering the IS as a device enabling cell-cell communication, clarification of its exact function is of huge general as well as therapeutic interest.
Publication order reference
T.Klemmensen, The Panum Institute, Blegdamsvej 3, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark