A cellular calculus for signal integration by T cells

Nat Immunol. 2000 Sep;1(3):239-44. doi: 10.1038/79782.


During an immune response numerous receptor-mediated signals delivered to T cells direct their proliferation, survival and differentiation. Here, we describe a quantitative model and in vitro methods for assessing the "calculus" used by T cells to process these multiple signals. The model reveals how T cells convert independently received signals into linear additive effects on division times which, in turn, amplify T cell number exponentially. These results explain why so many ligands can each appear obligatory for T cell activation and argue for a re-examination of the two-signal theory as the basis for decisions between tolerance and activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Normal Distribution
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Succinimides
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • 5-(6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Succinimides