Mechanosensing in T lymphocyte activation

Biophys J. 2012 Jan 18;102(2):L5-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.12.011.


Mechanical forces play an increasingly recognized role in modulating cell function. This report demonstrates mechanosensing by T cells, using polyacrylamide gels presenting ligands to CD3 and CD28. Naive CD4 T cells exhibited stronger activation, as measured by attachment and secretion of IL-2, with increasing substrate elastic modulus over the range of 10-200 kPa. By presenting these ligands on different surfaces, this report further demonstrates that mechanosensing is more strongly associated with CD3 rather than CD28 signaling. Finally, phospho-specific staining for Zap70 and Src family kinase proteins suggests that sensing of substrate rigidity occurs at least in part by processes downstream of T-cell receptor activation. The ability of T cells to quantitatively respond to substrate rigidly provides an intriguing new model for mechanobiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acrylic Resins / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / cytology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • CD28 Antigens / immunology
  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Mice


  • Acrylic Resins
  • Antibodies
  • CD28 Antigens
  • CD3 Complex
  • polyacrylamide