Dynamic polarization of the microtubule cytoskeleton during CTL-mediated killing

Immunity. 2002 Jan;16(1):111-21. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(02)00262-5.


Efficient unidirectional killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) requires translocation of the microtubule organizing center (MTOC) to the target cell contact site. Here we utilize modulated polarization microscopy and computerized 3D reconstruction of tubulin and LFA-1 immunofluorescence images to investigate how this is accomplished. The results show that the MTOC is drawn vectorially to the contact site by a microtubule sliding mechanism. Once the MTOC arrives at the contact site, it oscillates laterally. Microtubules loop through and anchor to a ring-shaped zone (pSMAC) defined by the dense clustering of LFA-1 at the target contact site. Microtubules that run straight between the MTOC and pSMAC and then turn sharply may indicate the action of a microtubule motor such as dynein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1 / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Microscopy, Polarization
  • Microtubules / chemistry
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1