Functional antigen-independent synapses formed between T cells and dendritic cells

Nat Immunol. 2001 Oct;2(10):925-31. doi: 10.1038/ni713.


Immunological synapse formation is usually assumed to require antigen recognition by T cell receptors. However, the immunological synapse formed at the interface between naïve T cells and dendritic cells (DCs) has never been described. We show here that in the absence of antigen, and even of major histocompatibility complex molecules, T cell-DC synapses are formed and lead to several T cell responses: a local increase in tyrosine phosphorylation, small Ca2+ responses, weak proliferation and long-term survival. These responses are triggered more readily in CD4+ T cells than in CD8+ T cells, which express a specific isoform of the repulsive molecule CD43. These phenomena may play a major role in the maintenance of the naïve T cell pool in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phosphorylation
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / genetics


  • Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Calcium