Identification of self through two-dimensional chemistry and synapses

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2001;17:133-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.17.1.133.


Cells in the immune and nervous systems communicate through informational synapses. The two-dimensional chemistry underlying the process of synapse formation is beginning to be explored using fluorescence imaging and mechanical techniques. Early analysis of two-dimensional kinetic rates (k(on) and k(off)) and equilibrium constants (K(d)) provides a number of biological insights. First, there are two regimes for adhesion-one disordered with slow k(on) and the other self-ordered with 10(4)-fold faster k(on). Despite huge variation in two-dimensional k(on), the two-dimensional k(off) is like k(off) in solution, and two-dimensional k(off) is more closely related to intrinsic properties of the interaction than the two-dimensional k(on). Thus difference in k(off) can be used to set signaling thresholds. Early signaling complexes are compartmentalized to generate synergistic signaling domains. Immune antigen receptor components have a role in neural synapse editing. This suggests significant parallels in informational synapse formation based on common two-dimensional chemistry and signaling strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD4 Antigens / immunology
  • Cell Communication*
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Self Tolerance*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / chemistry*
  • Synapses / immunology*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • CD4 Antigens