Early Signaling in Primary T Cells Activated by Antigen Presenting Cells Is Associated with a Deep and Transient Lamellal Actin Network

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 3;10(8):e0133299. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133299. eCollection 2015.


Cellular signaling transduction critically depends on molecular interactions that are in turn governed by dynamic subcellular distributions of the signaling system components. Comprehensive insight into signal transduction requires an understanding of such distributions and cellular structures driving them. To investigate the activation of primary murine T cells by antigen presenting cells (APC) we have imaged more than 60 signaling intermediates during T cell stimulation with microscopy across resolution limits. A substantial number of signaling intermediates associated with a transient, wide, and actin-associated lamellum extending from an interdigitated T cell:APC interface several micrometers into the T cell, as characterized in detail here. By mapping the more than 60 signaling intermediates onto the spatiotemporal features of cell biological structures, the lamellum and other ones previously described, we also define distinct spatial and temporal characteristics of T cell signal initiation, amplification, and core signaling in the activation of primary T cells by APCs. These characteristics differ substantially from ones seen when T cells are activated using common reductionist approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell