Diversity in immunological synapse structure

Timothy J. Thauland, David C. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Summary: Immunological synapses (ISs) are formed at the T cell-antigen-presenting cell (APC) interface during antigen recognition, and play a central role in T-cell activation and in the delivery of effector functions. ISs were originally described as a peripheral ring of adhesion molecules surrounding a central accumulation of T-cell receptor (TCR)-peptide major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) interactions. Although the structure of these 'classical' ISs has been the subject of intense study, non-classical ISs have also been observed under a variety of conditions. Multifocal ISs, characterized by adhesion molecules dispersed among numerous small accumulations of TCR-pMHC, and motile 'immunological kinapses' have both been described. In this review, we discuss the conditions under which non-classical ISs are formed. Specifically, we explore the profound effect that the phenotypes of both T cells and APCs have on IS structure. We also comment on the role that IS structure may play in T-cell function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-472
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion molecules
  • Antigen presentation
  • Immune synapse
  • T cells
  • T-cell receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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