Dissecting the Immunological Synapse

Courtesy of Michael Dustin PASS IT ON: A T cell (blue) interacts with a dendritic cell (yellow) through a molecular pattern described as an immunological synapse (red = adhesion, green = foreign antigen). This is a composite image of a scanning electron micrograph and a fluorescence image. We can do things that haven't been done before, I think, ever in cell biology," exclaims Mark Davis of Stanford University. His 3-D, fluorescence video-microscopy system allows him to count the number

Josh Roberts
May 4, 2003
Courtesy of Michael Dustin
 PASS IT ON: A T cell (blue) interacts with a dendritic cell (yellow) through a molecular pattern described as an immunological synapse (red = adhesion, green = foreign antigen). This is a composite image of a scanning electron micrograph and a fluorescence image.

We can do things that haven't been done before, I think, ever in cell biology," exclaims Mark Davis of Stanford University. His 3-D, fluorescence video-microscopy system allows him to count the number of antigen receptors being stimulated on a given T cell, and to follow that cell through time. Davis asks of the single cell, "What do you need in the way of signals to get synapses? And what is the sensitivity of a T cell to antigen?"

The synapse Davis refers to is the immunological synapse, where T cells receive their marching orders; understanding it is vital to appreciating how an immune...