Correlation of a dynamic model for immunological synapse formation with effector functions: two pathways to synapse formation

Trends Immunol. 2002 Oct;23(10):492-9. doi: 10.1016/s1471-4906(02)02285-8.


During antigen recognition by T cells different receptors and ligands form a pattern in the intercellular junction called the immunological synapse, which might be involved in T-cell activation. Recently, a synapse assembly model has been proposed, which enables the calculation of the propensity for synapse assembly driven by membrane-constrained protein binding interactions. We bring together model predictions of mature synapse assembly with data on the dependence of T-cell responses on T-cell receptor (TCR)-MHC-peptide (pMHC) binding kinetics. Predictions of mature synapse assembly, based on TCR-pMHC binding kinetics, correlate well with observed cytokine responses by T cells bearing the relevant TCR but not with cytotoxic T lymphocyte-mediated killing. We discuss the suggested different role for the synapse in pre- and post-nuclear activation events in T cells. The view of immunological synapse assembly given here emphasizes the importance of both the on and off rates for the TCR-pMHC interaction and in this context recent data on a positive role for analogs of self-peptides in synapse assembly is considered.

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.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell