Tumors can escape immune destruction through the development of antigen loss variants and loss of antigen processing/presentation pathways, thereby rendering them invisible to T cells. Alternatively, mechanisms of peripheral T-cell tolerance that would normally be important for protection from the development of autoimmunity may also be co-opted to (i) generate an immuno-inhibitory tumor environment, (ii) promote development of regulatory cell populations, or (iii) cell-intrinsically inactivate tumor-specific T cells. Emerging evidence suggests that T-cell function is impaired in hematological malignancies, which may manifest from cognate interactions between T cells and the tumor. The immunological synapse forms the cognate T-cell and antigen-presenting cell interaction and is the site where key signalling events, including those delivered by co-inhibitory receptors, that determine the fate of T cells occur. Here, we review evidence that events at the immune synapse between T cells and malignant B cells and alterations in immune synapse function may contribute to loss of T-cell function in B-cell malignancies.
Keywords: T-cell function; T-cell tolerance; immunological synapse; lymphoma.